Four NBA Championships, perennial All-Star, about 7 feet tall, and a leader on and off the court with great respect and desire.

So why again is Tim Duncan one of the most underrated players in the league?

Nowhere has it been more apparent than in this year’s Finals. Look across the court at opponent Labron James.

The Golden Boy, the King, the new Jordan — the list goes on and on for the 22-year-old phenom. There is also another list that includes no championships, only one Finals appearance and a slew of game-winning missed shots.

Now don’t get me wrong, he is one of my favorite players to watch in the league, as he is for most every fan. But Duncan shouldn’t be put on a pedestal for his accomplishments.

The most press Duncan got this season was for his argument with a ref, which in turn got him thrown out, which by the way, happens once every blue moon.

Duncan’s jersey sales show just how unappreciated he is. James, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Dwayne Wade, and Tracy McGrady make all the money in that sense. All of their seasons, besides James, ended early this year.

Duncan is no bad boy, nor is he the flashiest player in the league. Actually, he is a pretty boring guy compared to the dominant power forwards of the past 10 years.

Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone were cornerstones for the league for many seasons. The power forward was a position played by only the biggest and baddest guys, and fans loved it.

Duncan came into the league with David Robinson at center for the Spurs and that could have been the greatest big-man duo ever. The problem was that they were just two hard-working players who never really got into the news.

In today’s wacky world of sports, that is the biggest problem about Duncan. Heaven forbid that we tell our kids to look up to a guy who puts his team first and for the most part stays quite.

No, instead they look up to Bryant and Iverson, two heavenly examples of the NBA.

Now two more big men will make their way into the league, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Both were dominant in college and now look to bring their big games to the pros.

They were exciting and the best around, but so was Duncan. The problem for them is that they are also both humble and respectful, and everyone knows that doesn’t sell jerseys.

The National Basketball League is missing a real opportunity here with the San Antonio Spurs. This team is a dynasty, plain and simple.

Duncan, Parker, Ginobli and Bowen should be praised for what they’ve accomplished. Instead, every other word out of an NBA commercial has the word “James” in it.

The New England Patriots were, and still are, praised for being a team in the truest sense of the word. Their general, Tom Brady, is one of the league’s biggest stars.

So why not San Antonio, and for that matter, why not Duncan?



Chris Walsh's column appears Fridays in The Valdosta Daily Times.

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