The Conference Finals for both the East and the West had something in common this season: Each had a 36-year-old future hall of fame center (or power forward) in Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, trying desperately to help their respective teams reach the promised land of the NBA Finals.
Both players had their moments, as you will see in the videos below.
Facing teams represented by the brightest superstars of today in LeBron James and Kevin Durant, Garnett and Duncan fell just short of making it back to the finals, and both will now head into the summer as unrestricted free agents.
Duncan is all but likely to re-sign with the Spurs, but no one has a clue as to what Garnett will do next. With his time as a Celtic likely over, though, there is an idea – a slim possibility – in San Antonio of a pairing that no one could have imagined up until now: The Big Ticket and The Big Fundamental donning the same uniform.
The fierce competitors have so much in common in terms of abilities on the court, but it’s no secret that the personalities of the two are polar opposites of each other, as stated by Buck Harvey of San Antonio Express-News:
But it’s the pairing of Garnett with Duncan that would make this free-agency signing a stunning story. While they would fit together on the court, they never have as people. They are similar in size, ability and birth (one month apart), yet have been opposites.
This spring told of that again: Sports Illustrated wrote Duncan “hates (Garnett) the way liberals hate Sean Hannity.”
Still, playing against someone isn’t the same as playing with him. A lot of scorers never liked Bruce Bowen defending them, for example, but they probably would have wanted him on their team.
The last statement is absolutely true. You hate certain players until the player you hate joins your team. Jared Jeffries once went after Carmelo Anthony with bad intent, while Ray Allen once got into a scuffle with Keyon Dooling. It never stopped any of them from eventually becoming reliable teammates.
Duncan would be a fool not to prefer Garnett over Boris Diaw or DeJuan Blair (with apologies to both players), and Duncan is no fool. He makes decisions in order to win, and that notion was proven when he willingly took less money from the Spurs to free up more money for the organization to spend, and never once did he complain when his role on the offensive end suddenly diminished. He is smart enough to understand that the remedy for his hatred towards Garnett is to play with him.
Even if they don’t get along off the court, the duo would be a menacing pair on the court. Garnett would help the Spurs’ defense – something that failed them in the Conference Finals – immensely, while his deadly mid-range jumper compliments Duncan’s game perfectly. Both players are incredibly cerebral, can still rebound with the best of them, and are among the best passing big men of all time. They would instantly become the most dominant big-man combination in the league, even at this stage of their careers.
The only concern of signing both players, aside from not knowing whether Garnett has any interst, would be their age. Both players will be 37 by this time next season, and while they showed a spring in their step in the postseason, there’s no guarantee of how long their aging bodies could last. Simply put, the window of opportunity could be relatively short.
Still, how fun would it be to see these old nemesis join forces to terrorize the rest of the league come next season?
For Sunday’s news about the future of the Big Three in Boston, click here.
James Park is a regular contributor and blogger for SheridanHoops.com. You can follow him on twitter @nbatupark.