Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward to have ever lived, winning 5 NBA titles with one franchise and making an incredible 15 All-Star Teams. His consistency and longevity as a superstar were spectacular to watch, yet he remains arguably the most underappreciated star in NBA history.
It is strange for a player, who is considered the greatest in his positions, to be underappreciated. No other star has faced this type of disrespect before, whether it was Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan or any of the great centers including Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. But there are clear reasons that Tim Duncan is underappreciated, and here are all of them.
Tim Duncan Was The Most Boring Superstar In NBA History
Unfortunately, charisma and individual selfishness play a big role in remembering how dominant someone was. Michael Jordan was the most skilled player who ever lived, but his charisma and vocal strength boosted his status to forever untouchable. Even guys like Russell Westbrook have exceptional talent but their charisma on the court is what causes biased support from their fans.
Unfortunately for Tim Duncan, he was on the other end of that spectrum. Duncan was arguably the most boring player who ever lived and hardly gave any standout interviews or personality moments during his decade and a half-long dominance. Duncan just went about his business without caring for individual statistics or achievements. For many fans, they simply did not enjoy watching the Spurs or Tim Duncan play.
Being boring should not take away from what Duncan brought to the table because he was the best two-way power forward who ever lived. Even without caring about individual achievements, he captured 2 MVPs and 3 Finals MVPs which goes to show his individual greatness that he never flaunted.
Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, And LeBron James Overshadowed The Big Fundamental
Arguably the biggest reason Duncan is underappreciated, other than being boring, is the fact that he played during an era shared with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and LeBron James. There is no doubt that these three superstars are some of the flashiest and most outspoken athletes in American sports history.
Bryant was an unapologetically vocal leader, speaking his mind whenever he wanted and forcing anyone who disagreed with him to go kick rocks. After all, Bryant earned that respect. Before he became "The Black Mamba", Bryant won 3 NBA titles alongside the most dominant physical specimen ever in Shaquille O'Neal. Not to mention, Bryant had some memorable individual moments which include a 2008 MVP Award and an 81-point game along with the most game-winners in NBA history. Whether he wore #8 or #24, everyone in the world knew who Kobe Bryant was because he always wore the famous Purple and Gold jersey.
Alongside Bryant, O'Neal was as flashy as it gets. The Big Aristotle is known for his ventures off the court which includes movies, music, and countless business undertakings including hilarious commercials and appearances. Shaq is one of a kind and playing for the famed Lakers franchise alongside Kobe would overshadow any player in the league regardless of their talent. While Duncan was quiet and not in the limelight, Shaquille O'Neal was.
Finally, Duncan also shared his career alongside LeBron James. Everyone and their mother knows that LeBron loves being the center of attention because he was thrust into fame as a high schooler. LeBron's flash style of play and on-court arrogance made him a media darling, and he had the skills to back it up. Whether it was putting defenders on posters or making impossible passes, LeBron was a more memorable player than Tim Duncan.
The Greatness Of The Spurs Franchise Undermined Duncan's Impact
There is no doubt the San Antonio Spurs is one of the greatest organizations in the history of basketball. They hold the record for most consecutive playoff appearances with 15 and have a culture dedicated to being unselfish and winning at the highest level. Tim Duncan just so happened to fall into the Spurs' lap in the 1997 NBA Draft and remained with the team for 19 years.
Playing for a great franchise dedicated to winning is yet another reason why Duncan is underappreciated. The Big Fundamental also played under one of the greatest coaches ever in Gregg Popovich and some Hall of Famers including Tony Parker, David Robinson, and Manu Ginobili. Having that sort of consistency for nearly 2 decades undermined what Duncan brought to the franchise.
While Duncan clearly benefited from playing under Popovich and the Spurs organization, it was the power forward who was the undisputed key to their success. His ability to defend, rebound, and score in unconventional ways is the reason he juggles 5 rings on his fingers. But for whatever reason, critics give the bulk of the credit to the Spurs and Gregg Popovich.
Tim Duncan is the consensus pick for the greatest power forward who ever lived. He was the most consistent star of his era, remaining with one franchise for his entire career and never having any moments where he fell out of character. With Duncan, everyone knew they were getting dominance on defense and intelligent possessions every night.
Duncan never suffered a Game 7 meltdown as Kobe Bryant had against the Suns when he refused to shoot or choke jobs like LeBron experienced in the 2011 Finals. Nobody ever questioned Duncan's ability to train hard and dedicate time to his body, criticisms which were spoken widely about Shaq. Duncan's problem was that he was boring, opting for a jumper off the backboard instead of a fadeaway or monster dunk.
Tim Duncan is incorrectly remembered for being a cog in a fantastic Spurs system, instead of being the man who built the dynasty. While Duncan might never receive the credit he deserves because of some incredibly flashy players who were the faces of the league, The Big Fundamental knew how to play the game at a high level and will sit firmly among the top-10 players who have ever played.