With apologies to every other player on the San Antonio Spurs roster, every fan and even Gregg Popovich, this Finals run isn't about them. It's not even about Tony Parker, who has been brilliant this postseason, especially against the Memphis Grizzlies. No this run to the Finals is about Tim Duncan and the quest to get him ring number five.
The idea that it's about Duncan more than everyone else became clear after the Spurs held off the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. The evidence that this one came in several forms. First there was Tony Parker's postgame comments, where he admitted that he told Duncan he was going to do everything he could to get the Spurs another crack at the title after last year's devastating loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder (H/T to ESPN's J.A. Adande).
"I promised to him that we will go back, go back to the Finals and get an opportunity to win the whole thing, and I'm going to do my best," Parker said.
Then there was DeJuan Blair's instgram pictures, two great ones (here and here) of Duncan surrounded by a group of Spurs who at the oldest (Gary Neal) nine years younger than the two time MVP. But there Duncan was right in the middle, embraced by his teammates. The appreciation of Duncan and the desire to win one more for him didn't stop in the locker room. Adande caught up with Spurs owner Peter Holt, who was also quick to single out his happiness for Duncan.
"It's Tim. I mean, everybody, of course. But … Tim."
The love for Duncan doesn't stop there. ESPN and Grantland's Bill Simmons has been beating the "Duncan's had a better career than Kobe" drum a lot lately (he's been doing it for years, just hasn't had a format like TV to do it in) and before Game 4 wrote and voiced an essay praising Duncan's career.
This is Duncan's Finals. The Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat might win the title. Parker might win the Finals MVP if the Spurs win, but this is about Duncan. For some (myself included) it's about matching his ring count with Kobe Bryant's, it's about solidifying his place as one of the NBA's top 10 players ever. For his teammates, it's about getting him one more ring to say thanks for everything he's done so far for the organization. Regardless it's about Duncan right now more than it is the Spurs, which is odd to say because that's never been the case. But at least until the Finals start it'll be about Duncan, and everyone (except Duncan obviously) seems to be cool with that.