Crossover Chronicles Finals Roundtable: Tim Duncan’s legacy

Everyone at Crossover Chronicles is really excited for this upcoming NBA Finals rematch between the Heat and the Spurs. Game One tips off tonight at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. But there are a lot of questions that need answering beforehand and a lot of storylines to watch.

Yesterday we took a look at the rematch and what 2013 will mean for the 2014 Finals. Earlier today we looked at the impact this Finals will have on the legacies of two franchises. Now we move on to the legacy of Tim Duncan.

Philip Rossman-Reich: Since we are talking legacy now, what does this title run do for Tim Duncan’s legacy? Is his legacy set in stone? What would another title do?

Matt Zemek: As someone who follows tennis, I can feel comfortable in saying that a 2014 Duncan title could be properly compared to Roger Federer’s 2012 Wimbledon championship, won just a month before his 31st birthday. The top NBA careers are generally longer than the best tennis careers. There are a few tennis players who remained substantially relevant past age 35 (Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Martina Navratilova, and a few others), but for the most part, basketball allows for greater longevity, if only because it’s a team sport.

The point to underscore here is that winning a major near age 31 qualifies as an “old-man feat” in tennis terms, especially in the present day. After Federer went without a major since January of 2010, a lot of people were wondering if he could ever find the consistency needed to win one more. Forget the distinction between 16 majors and the 17 he has now. What’s more relevant is that Federer found a way to win one on the sunset side of age 30, proof that he didn’t cease to be a champion when he stopped being 25 to 28 years old. That one last Wimbledon will significantly improve his overall legacy.

TimDuncanSpurs_Heat062413Everything that’s just been said about Federer would also apply to Duncan if the Spurs win this title. The move from four to five titles wouldn’t be the most significant story under such a scenario; it would be the ability to reach deep inside himself for an “old-man title” against a Finals opponent far more skilled than the 2003 Nets, 2005 Pistons (as good as that team was), and 2007 Cavaliers.

In the prime of a career, one more title doesn’t seem like much. Near the end of a career, that one title stands out a lot more. Accordingly, it matters a lot more in disucssions of history, legacy, and overall reputation.

Philip: Yeah, I do not know what another title does to Duncan’s legacy. It feels like he was pretty content with what he thought of himself and never cared what anyone else thought of him. Duncan is the unassuming star that just did his work without any appreciation except for the rings on his finger.

But losing hurts. It is pretty clear it hurts. And it still hurts. So if the Spurs win this title, I think this title will mean the most to him. What Duncan thinks of himself seems most important. Which is a pretty crazy thing to think at this point.

Josh Burton: I would think that Duncan’s status as an all-time great is relatively safe, but another title would only put him higher and higher on the list of the league’s most prominent winners. At 38 years young, Duncan doesn’t have a lot of title chances left in his career and certainly wants to make the most of this opportunity. And if he does, he (along with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker) will have four championships, a mark that isn’t matched by many players in the history of the league.

Jeff Garcia: What more does Duncan really have to do to earn his spot among the greatest? Really? Has anyone looked at his overall basketball resume?

A fifth title will only add to his legacy, and cement his place not as the greatest power forward ever but among the greatest basketball players in league history.

Of course TD is going to give his all to capture title No. 5 and coming up short will hurt.

Stay tuned later today as we provide our predictions for the series and a look at the key matchup for Game One.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily