Over/Under: The Greatness of Tim Duncan and the value of proper ratings


As the opening game of the NBA Finals came to an end and the Twittersphere collectively marveled at Tony Parker’s game-sealing, “French Kiss” dagger, one thought came to my mind: Everyone’s going to be talking about Parker, overlooking Tim Duncan’s 20 and 14. Again.

For reasons legit and superficial, Tim Duncan has been one of the more underrated superstars in the basketball — though he is considered by some the greatest power forward of all time, the degree to which his greatness rises is still often overlooked.

For example, there is a general consensus among casual NBA fans that Kobe Bryant is the greatest player of this era (meaning the 2000s). While Kobe certainly has a case to indeed be the GOOT (Greatest Of Our Time), the fact that he so overwhelmingly tops these polls — with Duncan finishing a distant second or third — is a travesty.

This perpetual lack of rightful appreciation for Duncan — again, simply acknowledging he’s a great one isn’t doing him justice, Duncan is, really, a top 7 or 8 player of all time and has a career that could go toe-to-toe with the Magic Johnsons and Larry Birds — drives true hoopheads insane, as we spend half our time arguing with other obsessed hoopheads over the rightful ranking of a player’s greatness. To us, properly rating a player is crucial. And this brings me to the topic of this post…

The concept of “overrated” and “underrated” holds more value in sports than anything else in life, but we diehard sports fans forget this and apply “overrated/underrated” values to films, music, restaurants, hell, even a girl’s looks, usually to the dismay of “normal folks.”

For example. I have a problem with fanboy culture who come out of every Marvel film gushing “it was aweesomee.” To me, you have to go deeper than that to gauge a film’s worth, and to group a fun, but ultimately fluffy movie like, say, Iron Man Three to a transcendent film like The Dark Knight is an insult to the latter.

I recently went at it with my homie Marv — with whom I have many late night arguments over the merits of film and black sitcom and life shit — because he and other homies came out of Star Trek 2 viewing claiming it was greater than The Dark Knight.

I vehemently disagreed, citing the overall critic consensus (praises for TDK were a level or two above praises for Star Trek 2 among most film critics) and cultural influence (TDK was a transcendent film that changed how action/hero movies were made for the next few years, while ST 2 will probably be a great, but ultimately inessential movie) to back my argument.

I’m not sure whether or not Marv took that as me dissing Star Trek 2, but I actually loved the film and think it’s likely going to be the smartest “blockbuster film” of the year. It’s just that it’s not going to have a lasting legacy like TDK in film lore.

And so, our film debate stopped becoming whether or not Star Trek 2 was an enjoyable film (we all thought it was great) but turned into our perception of the film’s “greatness” in the pantheon of great films. I think Marv is overrating Trek; he thinks I’m overrating TDK.

The reason we’re homies is because we care about shit like the importance of the proper rating of something. I am fully aware that, to most casual people/non-diehard fans, arguing over something like that is stupid.

But Marv and I discussed this, at like 4am (for me), over Gchat. We often take great NBA players and their degree of their greatness, and apply them to other topics in order to get a proper idea of where we rate said topics. For example, if we’re discussing Carey Mulligan’s looks versus another actress, we may say something like “X is pretty, but she’s a Deron Williams level while Mulligan is Chris Paul level.”

If we’re going by resume, Williams and Paul are virtually interchangeable. They both have made the same amount of money, all star appearances, gold medals, awards, etc. But true basketball fans know that if you dig deeper, Paul is at a greater level.

And that matters. Just saying both is great isn’t enough. This is why it’s bothersome that Duncan is just considered one of the all-time greats and not “near the top of the all-time greats,” and why anointing Bryant as the best player of the 2000s by some distance is completely wrong.

This is also why it sucks (to me, anyway), that Parker got all the love for hitting a semi-lucky shot when Duncan, at age 37, anchored the defense and dropped 20 and 14. Both Parker and Duncan played great, and both got praise, but the degree to which Parker’s praise is greater than Duncan’s praise is problematic.

You have to get into the levels of greatness to give a proper rating, or else you risk the biggest sin of all: overrating something.

But that’s because I’m a huge NBA fan. Rest of y’all probably don’t give a crap.


On an unrelated note, here is me hitting a shot in Marv’s face some 4 years back. Yo Marv, where you at?

Also, I’ve started another blog, this one ranting about the various different stuff I love.



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