Under the Radar with Mike Breen
Posted Apr 14 2007 1:44PM
Veteran NBA play-caller Mike Breen is the lead voice for the NBA on ABC Sports and ESPN including the NBA Finals. You can hear him on ESPN every Wednesday night and on ABC Sundays through the rest of the season. In addition, Breen will give you his thoughts on the league and that night's ESPN matchup here on NBA.com every week.
TAKING TIM FOR GRANTED
He'll be 31 at the end of the month....in his 10th year in the league...once again quietly going about being great. That's right, I said great, which is one of the most overused words in sports. Too often we hear the words, "He's a great player." That should only be used when that player is extraordinary, when that player is special, when that player is someone like Tim Duncan. How great is Duncan? That question might best be answered by stating that we have simply taken him for granted.
Last season Duncan averaged almost 19 points with 11 rebounds and two blocks per game while playing much of the year with a right foot problem. Yet some said he had a down year. (He did manage to average almost 26 points to go along with 10.5 rebounds-per-game in the playoffs, including 32 points-per-game against the Mavericks in the Western Conference Semifinals). This season his numbers are 20 ppg, 10.6 rpg and 2.4 bpg while shooting .545 from the field (just a notch below his career high of .549 attained in his rookie season).
Still, ask NBA observers about Duncan this season and they most likely say, "Oh yeah, he's having a good year." Duncan has set such a high standard of consistent excellence that we just expect his numbers to be superb and have stopped making a big deal about him. Listen, I'm not saying we should throw poor Tim Duncan a pity party. Duncan is a two-time NBA MVP and three-time Finals MVP who has garnered his share of recognition. However, if there ever was a future first ballot Hall of Famer who played under the radar, it's Tim Duncan. When you watch the highlight shows you rarely see a Duncan play. Soft bank shots, help defense and setting up teammates do not make many Top 10 lists. But that's okay with Duncan. With him, it's all about winning, and his three rings prove it.
So this Sunday on ABC, when you watch leading MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki (also a "great" player) and fellow All-Stars Josh Howard, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, keep an eye on No. 21 for the Spurs, and appreciate his consistent greatness, regardless of how matter of fact it may seem.
Tune in Sunday, April 15, to watch the Dallas Mavericks host the San Antonio Spurs at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC!