Monday night was supposed to be a highlight night in the NBA, with a matchup between two of the Western Conference’s best — the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs — capping it all off.
Who doesn’t want to see Tim Duncan as the ageless wonder against the young Stephen Curry and Draymond Green?
It won’t happen though, as the Spurs took to Twitter on Sunday to announce Duncan will miss the game with the classic “right knee soreness.”
INJURY REPORT – Tim Duncan (soreness, right knee) is out for tomorrow's Spurs-Warriors game.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 24, 2016
One could have responded with cynicism or outrage at the fact that the 38-6 Spurs have magically decided to not have their best player on the court against the 40-4 Warriors, but that’s not the tact Golden State head coach Steve Kerr took.
Instead, Kerr fired back with a friendly jab at Duncan’s age and a shrug of the shoulders.
Steve Kerr on Duncan sitting out Monday's game: He 'is 57 years old' and needs a day off occasionally.
— Monte Poole (@MontePooleCSN) January 24, 2016
Of course it is all in good-natured fun, as Kerr and Duncan know each other well — spending four seasons together on the Spurs early on in Duncan’s career. The two won championships together in 1999 and 2003, as Kerr’s career was winding down and Duncan was just quietly going about the business of being one of the most dominant big men of his time.
Duncan, the 19-year veteran, has played in 37 games this season despite the toll the game has taken on his body. He’s averaging just 8.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and playing 25.9 minutes per game as well.
This move shouldn’t really surprise anyone though, as Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are known to randomly sit players against top contenders in an effort to play a mind game or two. Nothing like keeping the opponent off guard in case of a playoff matchup down the road.
Still, Duncan clearly isn’t an 82-game a year player anymore and the rest on the back end of the West Coast swing makes total sense.
It just doesn’t help the ratings or fan interest in this contest all that much.