Tim Duncan has had a career of pure excellence. For 16 seasons, it has been all about consistent winning, key plays and making himself and his teammates better. Rarely does Duncan let anything emote from him in victory or defeat just expecting victory like he was born to do it — and he very well might have been.
Duncan has faced plenty of adversity in his career, but maintained that stoic look.
Game Seven was different though. The emotion was coming out of him in waves in those final moments as the Heat came to realize they would be champions once again and the Spurs realized they would face Finals defeat for the first time. Tim Duncan literally had the game in his hands with a layup down two points and Shane Battier guarding him. Duncan missed the hook shot and the ensuing tip in.
That was game over. One of the league's all-time greats was only left with the "what-if?"
Game 7, missing a lay-up to tie the game, making a bad decision down the stretch,” Duncan said. “Just unable to stop Dwyane [Wade] and LeBron [James]. Probably, for me, Game 7 is always going to haunt me."
The Spurs will move forward, for sure. They still have a very good chance to compete for another trip to the Finals. But to be so close can hurt a lot more. And Duncan felt that as much as anyone for the Spurs.
Duncan's legacy is safe. He has four championships to his name and a 17-year body of work that shows off his consistency and never-ceasing greatness.
That does not take away from the sting of this one however. Duncan mentioned it in his interview with ABC played during the pregame early on in the series. He felt this title opportunity was more special than the others. He noted how quickly those first few titles came that he never got the chance to appreciate how special the trip was. A six-year absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Duncan though has no reason for this series to haunt him any more than any other loss.
The Big Fundamental turned the clock back all postseason, but moreso in the Finals. During the seven-game series, he averaged 18.9 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor. His 30-point effort in Game Six and 24-point effort in Game Seven were all that he could do to get the Spurs that last win to gain the championship.
Losses hurt. Especially losses in the Finals. Duncan's individual performance should not take away from his disappointment that his team fell agonizingly short.
Duncan though also should not have any regrets. He gave it his all these last two weeks and added one more story to his legend. Unfortunately, it will just be a footnote to the growing story of another all-time great in LeBron James.