Three Unlucky Moments that redefined the Tim Duncan Era

Tim Duncan is one of the most decorated stars in NBA history. The U.S. Virgin Islands native is considered one of the best, if not the best, power forward of all time. His career spanned over 19 years, and he prided himself on playing the game the right way, earning the nickname ‘the Big Fundamental’.

Of course, the 6’11” big man spent those 19 years with the San Antonio Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich, teaming up with David Robinson in the early stages of his career before forming a big three with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for the latter part. He captured five NBA championships between those teams, but what could have been for those Spurs if a few unlucky fleeting moments went their way.

Derek Fisher 0.4 Second Buzzer Beater

Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals, tied at two games apiece. The Spurs were the 3-seed, despite winning one more game than the Lakers, the 2-seed. It truly was a battle of the titans, two champions facing off, with the winner likely to make the finals. The Spurs knocked out the 3-peat champion Lakers the previous year, meeting at the same stage. This contest was another chapter in the lore of their rivalry.

The Lakers, of course, had the formidable Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and added former all-stars, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, forming a super team. The Spurs were relying on their big-three of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

Duncan drilled an off-balance foul line jumper with 0.4 seconds to put them up 73-72 and looked to have buried the contest. However, coach Phil Jackson called timeout and drew up a play. Payton inbounded to Derek Fisher, who broke free left of the elbow and flung a wild shot. Nothing but net.

The Lakers took control of the series and won the series 4-2. They went to the finals, losing to the team-orientated Detroit Pistons. If that shot didn’t land, Duncan and co possibly could have gone on to win that series and do something his Spurs never accomplished: back to back championships.

The odds of that shot going in were slim to none; before that moment, the Lakers didn’t look in a position to win the series. The Lakers now are in a somewhat similar predicament. They have the pedigree to win the title but are suffering injuries. However, a lot of sports bookmakers have them as the second favourite. The growing popularity of the sport globally is mirrored by the number of online sportsbooks with basketball odds. Using a comparison website is a convenient way to find compiled offers and see the popularity of sports betting on basketball. It’s similar to traditional casino games where comparison aggregators exist for free spins or no-deposit bonuses. The market continues to grow as tech and 24/7 sports coverage develop.

Crawford No Call

Here we are once again—the Spurs vs the Lakers. This time it is 2008, and it’s the Western Conference finals. These two teams had countless battles throughout the decade and shared the ruling of the West. However, at the centre of things again is Derek Fisher. After being down by seven, the Spurs managed to cut the lead to two points with 2.1 seconds remaining. The play was called for Ginobili but ended up in the hands of Brent Barry, who faked Fisher to draw the foul and shot the ball. He missed but received significant contact from Fisher, enough for a foul to be called on his 3-point attempt. Nevertheless, Joey Crawford never blew his whistle and the game ended with a Lakers win and a commanding 3-1 series lead. It robbed the Spurs, yet again, of a chance to repeat after winning the title in 2007.

Ray Allen Game-Tying 3

“Won’t go. Rebound Bosh. Back out to Allen; his 3-pointer; BANG! Tie-game with 5 seconds remaining.” These words probably haunt every single San Antonio Spurs fan. The 2013 NBA finals between the juggernaut Lebron James and Miami Heat and the ageing Tim Duncan and San Antonio Spurs. Everybody tipped the Heat to win, but the Spurs could have sealed the series, as they were winning by three with 19 seconds left. Ray Allen inbounded to Mario Chalmers, who dribbled up the floor before finding James on a slip screen on the left side. He fired a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go. Gregg Popovich inexplicably left Duncan on the bench, and the game played out as above, with a Bosh rebound and Allen hitting one of the biggest shots ever. The Heat won in overtime, and Lebron James dominated game 7 to win Miami consecutive championships. The Spurs won the following year in a revenge tour, but it’s still interesting to wonder what would have happened if that shot never fell.

Tim Duncan transformed the Spurs, and together with Gregg Popovich, made them one of the preeminent franchises in the NBA. They changed how basketball was viewed and brought in a team-oriented game that proved you can win without being superstar dependent. They already won it all numerous times, but it still gives food for thought to what could have been.