What Does Tim Duncan's Retirement Mean for the Future of the NBA?
By Tyler Neal
But for real, though. No basketball fan living outside of San Antonio claims that their favorite NBA player is Tim Duncan. If they do... Well they probably have some weird insecurity issue where they use said claim to try to prove to you that they are a "pure basketball" fan and they do not condone all the flashiness of the current/future NBA landscape.
Timothy Theodore Duncan (why is it so fun to use player's full names in retrospect after their careers are over??) retired from the National Basketball Association over the weekend. Spurs fans everywhere have been all mixed up in a pile of happy/sad emotions for a few days now. As a basketball lifer, I can say that Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant are the first players that I clearly remember their whole playing career, from draft day to retirement. The question is: how did it happen so fast?
The next question that pops into my head is what this means for the league as a whole moving forward. Obviously, the game has changed drastically in the last 8-13 years of Duncan's career, with unprecedented athletes like LeBron James & Kevin Durant proving that tall guys, too, can do everything on the court, including handling the ball with ease as well as shooting well from the perimeter. Now, in the last 3-4 years even, the traditional big man's your Duncan's, Shaq's, Olajuwon's, Ewing's, etc.) slow disappearance from basketball seems to be speeding up, and the game is evolving to an even greater extent. Look no further than the Golden State Warriors, who have built their entire scheme around players like Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson who can quite literally score from anywhere within 35 feet of the basket. Heck, even mammoth big men, who previously would've predominantly resided in the paint, punishing teams inside, are stepping out and adding the 3-pointer to their arsenal (see: Boogie Cousins - 210 3FG attempts, over 3 per game; Karl-Anthony Towns - 88 attempts)!
It's almost as if Duncan's retirement was the last major event that needed to occur for the league to really take a full-fledged step into the future. There's not really anyway around higher scoring averages and less defense as general managers and higher-ups across the league scan the college and international landscape for players who can shoot/score the basketball.
Traditional NBA fans may have a problem with that, obviously. There won't be many more '86 Celtics, who would hold you in the 60's without really breaking a sweat. However, the current state of the league is what it is, and it will be wildly entertaining if nothing else (think of how many future NBA players are modeling their games after Curry right now...). So as loyal players like Duncan & Bryant slowly start to fade out, the best we can do is sit back and enjoy the league for what it is really meant to bring: entertainment.
Tyler is an Oklahoma City-ite married to Kristen, and currently working as a State Farm Insurance team member. He's a lover of all things sports, and definitely a bigger soccer fan than he has reason to be.