In a recent article from Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express News, Tim Duncan mentioned he would like to play as long as he can.
Q – Do you have an idea how much longer you want to do this?
A — I have one year, this year, and two more years after this. I think they’re going to tell me to go home after that. That’s what I’m planning on right now.
Q — If you feel as good then as you do now would you want to keep going?
A – I’d love to play as long as I can. I want to be as effective on the court. I don’t’ want to be on the court just to be on the court. I’m a player. I’m a competitor. If I can do it the way I want to do it, yeah, I’ll keep doing it.”
If by “they” Duncan is referring to the Spurs organization, then they might have to reconsider. At 33 years old, this season Duncan is averaging 19.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 32.1 minutes per game. Not too bad for someone considered “over the hill” for NBA standards.
Granted he will be 35 years old by the time his contract is up, but Duncan is proving he can still be a force in the paint and be an integral piece to the Spurs.
We’ve seen other big men in the NBA be very effective in the twilight of their careers. Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the perfect example. Kareem at 33 years old averaged 26.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks in 37.2 minutes. His numbers did start to have a decline after 33, but he was still very effective for the Lakers. Kareem played 20 seasons in the NBA, and retired at 42 years old. In his final season, Jabbar averaged 10.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 22.9 minutes per game. It also helped that Jabbar played with guys like Magic Johnson and James Worthy to prolong his career.
Will Duncan play until he is 42 years old? I highly doubt it, but Duncan is proving that age isn’t slowing him down. So don’t be surprised if Duncan plays a season or two extra after his current contract is done. And like Jabbar, Duncan has players in Tony Parker and DeJuan Blair to help prolong his career as well.
He was selected to his 13th All-Star game, and still draws the double-team. Not to mention, he has a pretty hefty mantle with four championships, three Finals MVPs and back to back MVPs among many other accomplishments.
In regards to his remaining years as a Spur, Duncan mentions he wants to “do it the way he wants to do it.” The way he should do it is to go out on top, a champion, like another former big man in the NBA – David Robinson.