Change is, paradoxically, one of the few constants in the human experience, but 2016 needs to slow down.
American institutions (Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, the stability of the republic) have been announcing their retirements at an alarming rate.
Tim Duncan looks to be next. And to basketball traditionalists, his retirement should be the saddest. (As of the writing of this column, Duncan had not confirmed whether he would return next season. He didn’t deny he would retire after the Spurs’ Game 6 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.)
As the greatest power forward of all time walks into the sunset, he takes the role of the traditional 4 with him. There may be TDs in the future, but they’ll be centers.
No one represents the evolution of the position more than the Warriors’ do-everything forward Draymond Green: an undersized big who plays facing the basket, is comfortable putting the ball on the floor and shows no hesitation to pull the trigger from behind the arc.
And Green, unlike Duncan, has never had his demeanor described as staid.
“You say something to Timmy,” Green told Sports Illustrated, “he just look at you with that Timmy face like, ‘Wow, you’re talking to me!’”
Both are great bigs who complement their guards with deft passing and interior defense. Both understand the position demands a selfless approach and a willingness to fill gaps on both ends of the floor.
Duncan’s Spurs were charged with making the league too boring as they dominated for more than a decade. Now, the Dubs’ objectively exciting brand of basketball makes the NBA malcontents cry that the league is too soft. But both should be first-ballot hall of famers, (assuming Green’s career follows its current trajectory for another five-plus years.)
Duncan’s impact on the league isn’t lost on Green, who described him as “the golden standard” on Friday, according to ESPN.
Change is inevitable, but those who put in the work to perfect their craft should always be remembered.