Tim Duncan is without any kind of question one of the best players to ever lace them up and is even considered to be the best player from his generation, and even though he wasn’t as flashy as other guys like Kobe Bryant, he definitely makes a case for it.
The first ballot Hall Of Famer was one of the most missed players this previous season, especially by the San Antonio Spurs, who often lacked the rim protection even the older version of The Big Fundamental could provide the team.
Duncan was as humble and respectful as he was deadly and even though he wasn’t the most stylish or entertaining player to watch, his impact on both ends of the court was something that few players will ever achieve once again.
5 time NBA Champion, 2 time MVP, 3 time Finals MVP, 15 time All-Star, 1 time All-Star MVP, 10 times All-NBA 1st team, 3 times All-NBA 2nd team, 2 times All-NBA 3rd team, 8 times All-Defensive 1st team, 7 times All-Defensive 2nd team, Rookie of the Year and leading scorer in San Antonio Spurs franchise, there just won’t ever be another Timothy Duncan.
But of course, in order for someone to thrive, other guys have to pay the price, and Duncan was one of the main reasons why some very talented players were never able to win a Championship during his 19 year NBA tenure. Today, we’ll name some of them.
10. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Zydrunas Ilgauskas was never a flashy player or a dominant center, but he was one of the most hardworking role players during his NBA stint, and he was even LeBron James’ favorite big man to ever play alongside according to him.
Nonetheless, Ilgauskas was never able to overcome the San Antonio Spurs dominance even despite playing alongside LeBron in both the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, as he got swept and humiliated by Duncan and Popovich in 2007 and then fell once again in 2011 during his last NBA campaign, this time against the Dallas Mavericks
9. Allan Houston
Allan Houston was always a prolific and talented scorer, making 2 All-Star selections and being one of the most important players in the New York Knicks for almost a decade, although he was never the team’s go-to-guy with Latrell Sprewell and Patrick Ewing also on the team.
Still, Houston was one of the main reasons why the Knicks constantly found success during the postseason, but Tim Duncan and David Robinson made sure that he had to retire without a ring during the 1999 NBA Finals when the Knicks reached the ultimate stage of the campaign despite being the eighth seed.
8. Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell was one of the most dominant and versatile scorers of the Association during his prime, but some poor professional decisions made him constantly fall short of glory, finally retiring after deciding not to take a very lucrative contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves and demanding more money.
Still, and like Allan Houston, Sprewell led the New York Knicks to a very impressive run in 1999, but the San Antonio Spurs were just too much to handle and embarrassed them 4 games to 1, with Tim Duncan winning the first of his 3 NBA Finals MVP despite Latrell’s over 26 ppg.
7. Steve Nash
Steve Nash is one of the most influential point guards of the last couple of decades and one of the few guys that can have the honor of being a member of the 50-40-90 club, averaging over 50% from the floor, 40% from three and 90% from the free throw line as one of the most consistent and reliable scoring options in the Association.
Sadly for him, he was never able to get his Phoenix Suns past the San Antonio Spurs during the playoffs except for one season, but Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers finally managed to get revenge over the team that had become their nightmare for the last couple of seasons.
6. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook was really close to reaching yet another NBA Finals back then in 2014, when he was blossoming as a fierce scorer entering his 6th season in the Association, averaging over 28.1 points per game to lead the Thunder alongside Kevin Durant to the Western Conference Finals.
Sadly for him, he just couldn’t make it, as Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs overplayed an Oklahoma City Thunder that lacked the experience to close out key passages of the game, falling 4 games to 2 on the year Duncan won yet another Championship.
5. Kevin Durant
Once again, Kevin Durant would have a tough time trying to get his first NBA Championship when he was playing alongside Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook in the Oklahoma City Thunder despite being a walking triple-double threat and a constant leader in the scoring tables.
Durant was playing lights out during that 2014 playoff run, but the Spurs would just be too much to handle for them, making them eat their dust on their way to the last title in franchise history. Still, Durant was finally able to win his first ring when he betrayed Russ and his fans and decided to play for the best team in the NBA.
4. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in the history of the game, but he has a very long story about failing in the postseason, both when he was the main guy in New Orleans and later as the primary ball handler of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Back then in 2012, it looked like Chris Paul was finally going to shake off his curse and make his way to at least the Western Conference Finals after upsetting the Memphis Grizzlies 4 games to 3, but San Antonio completely destroyed them with a humiliating sweep. Later, Paul would get his revenge and knock out the Spurs, but he’s still waiting to put a ring on that finger.
3. Marc Gasol
The Memphis Grizzlies have always been one of the most complicated teams to beat in the postseason, and a regular face that the San Antonio Spurs had to deal with during the playoffs was Marc Gasol’s who led the team on and off the court in their grit and grind style of play.
Sadly for them, the San Antonio Spurs completely whooped their butts during the 2013 Western Conference Finals with yet another sweep under Tim Duncan’s belt, although they would fall in a thriller of a series 4 games to 3 against the Miami Heat in the first of back to back Finals matchups.
2. Gary Payton
The Glove is also one of the San Antonio Spurs (And of course, Tim Duncan’s) favorite victims, although he manages to retire after winning a Championship alongside Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal as a member of the Miami Heat in 2006.
The Supersonics were always one of the most competitive teams in the Association, but they just weren’t able to constantly thrive in a Western Conference led by so many different fierce squads, especially a blossoming star from the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan, who beat them 3-2 in the 2002 Western Conference First Round.
1. Patrick Ewing
And last but not least, we get one of the best players to ever lace them up and even perhaps the best player in the New York Knicks franchise history alongside Bernard King, the beast out of Georgetown: Patrick Ewing.
Ewing was able to lead the New York Knicks to the NBA Finals for the first time in a very long while and he was the biggest hope to bring the title to the Big Apple once again, but the Spurs twin towers were completely unstoppable and there wasn’t anybody ready to stop a young Tim that averaged over 23 points, more than 11 rebounds and almost 3 blocks per game during the postseason.