Let’s take a trip down memory lane shall we?
As Tim Duncan entered the NBA, he saw David Robinson, a perennial All-Star and a superstar in his own right, adjust his own game to ensure he would flourish. Duncan saw someone completely re-invent himself so he can be an asset to help the team win, even if it meant him sacrificing his own numbers.
So when you hear Tiago Splitter make the following comments on Duncan's game (25 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 blocks) following the San Antonio Spurs' win over the Warriors, it should not come as a surprise.
"He's just unbelievable. He's figuring out how to play great at his age," Splitter said. "It's not easy. He's not the same guy he was 10 years ago."
The dip in the Duncan’s stats over the past few seasons was more due to him trying to find how he fit in with the new team dynamic versus him losing a step.
Just like Robinson, Duncan had to figure out how to let the next leader assert his authority and put his stamp on the team, while showing that he is
So the past few years of his NBA career, it was not Duncan's skills diminishing, but Duncan being the team player and allowing the next generation to find their own way and making their own way in the world.
This is why Duncan is one of the best ever to grace the NBA. He can defer to his teammates (Tony Parker) or be there when the team needs him to make plays as in the win over Golden State.
And his play extends beyond the Spurs locker room.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson succinctly summed up Duncan's career so far in the NBA.
"He's a Hall of Famer. An all-time great."
Even Warriors' Stephen Curry couldn't help but recognize Duncan's greatness.
"Tim (Duncan) made plays and that is what he does," said Curry.
And just like Robinson, let's hope this "team-first" approach to the game will allow Duncan to sail off into the sunset with an NBA title.