Old Man of the Year: Tim Duncan

The Old Man of the Year Award goes to the player whose age and pro­duc­tion graph are seem­ingly at odds with com­mon logic. This award shall also hence­forth be named the ‘Tim Dun­can Award’.

Tim Dun­can just turned 39. He is older than Celtics coach Brad Stevens. 20 years older than Dante Exum. He has pretty much been an age­less time trav­el­ling cyborg old man since he came into the league, with a well age­ing game founded on fun­da­men­tals, patience, intel­li­gence and consistency.

The raw num­bers may have dipped with Coach Popovic’s minute man­age­ment and the occa­sional ‘DNP-Old’, but the advanced num­bers are shock­ingly steady.

Tim Dun­can in 1997–98: 22.6 P.E.R.

Tim Dun­can in 2014–15: 22.6 P.E.R.

Dun­can spent the entire sea­son play­ing on one leg, and drop­ping in nights like this when­ever needed.

He won his first title in year 2, won his fifth 15 years later and is primed to chal­lenge for a sixth NBA cham­pi­onship this sea­son. The Spurs have been the model for sus­tained excel­lence for the last 17 years with their fran­chise player wag­ing war against time and nature with craft and rep­e­ti­tion as his weapons of choice.

An NBA player’s career graph usu­ally rises, peaks and falls, but Duncan’s has almost been a (high-level)flat-line, as is his demeanour. It’s the same story game after game, year after year: show up — put in work — repeat. In the ADHD-Vine era where most play­ers get 6 looped sec­onds of inter­net super­star­dom, Dun­can is a machine age relic of slow grind­ing workman-like effi­ciency over 48 minutes.

His entire career is essen­tially and extrap­o­la­tion of this 6 sec­ond snapshot.

He could retire after this sea­son or play at this level for another five, such is the lux­ury of being arguably the most con­sis­tently dom­i­nant player since Kareem.

After win­ning the 1999 finals, Greg Popovic said to Jeff Van Gundy: “I’ve got Tim [Dun­can] and you don’t. That’s the dif­fer­ence.” That was 16 years ago, though it just as well could have been yesterday.

Dev Kabir Malik has a clinically alarming dependence on basketball and spends most of his time watching, analyzing, writing and even playing a little pickup (and some 2K too). In the little time he has left, he dabbles with design, art & music.