San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan has reached a consistent level of success nearly unmatched in NBA history. At 38 years old, Duncan is still a massively important member of a team one win from its fifth NBA title in his 17 seasons. While he has never courted much attention in his career, being on the brink of a fifth championship tends to compel a lot of consideration of an all-time great's career and legacy.
To drive the point home even further, Duncan added two more records to his illustrious list of accomplishments in the Spurs' dominant Game 4 win over the Miami Heat. With 10 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes, Duncan broke the NBA career playoff records for minutes played and career double-doubles, surpassing two former Hall of Fame Los Angeles Lakers teammates in the process.
Each accomplishment stands on its own merits. With 14 first-half minutes, Duncan surpassed a record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played 8,851 minutes in 237 games over 20 career seasons. By comparison, Duncan set the new mark in his 233rd playoff game for a slightly better per-game average. Check out the top five in this graphic that aired during the third quarter of ABC's telecast:
Duncan figures to add to that record considerably if he continues his career past this season — the Spurs look as good as ever and could make another title run next year — but Kobe Bryant has a chance to top Duncan's mark soon if the Lakers' fortunes improve. Although LeBron James lags more than 2,000 minutes behind both players, he could challenge the record later on in his career.
Not content to settle for one milestone, Duncan set the double-double record in the fourth quarter on a straightforward layup off characteristically excellent ball movement from the Spurs. With his 10th point of the night, Duncan broke a tie with Lakers legend Magic Johnson to get the 158th double-double of his playoff career. Johnson played in just 190 playoff games, which means he logged a double-double in a whopping 82.6 percent of his appearances. Duncan's 67.8 percent is less impressive but nevertheless stands as a mark of his longevity and consistency. Take a look at the top four here:
For comparison's sake, Wilt Chamberlain holds the best double-double rate of this quartet at 89.4 percent of his 160 postseason appearances.
Duncan has averaged a double-double in 11 of his 16 postseasons (he missed the 2000 playoffs with a knee injury). He is unlikely to achieve that mark in this postseason, barring a rebounding onslaught to end the Finals, but at 16.4 points and 9.2 rebounds he's not that far off.
In his postgame news conference, Duncan spoke about his record-setting night in his typically self-effacing manner:
I can appreciate you saying the names and having passed them in anything. It's an honor to be in that position. Having won helps, but the focus is winning one more. Once the winning is done, I can look back and say it was truly an honor.
Duncan also had one of the top highlights of the game with this third-quarter dunk:
These are both career records, but few players in history have been quite so effective at such an advanced age. With the remaining length of Duncan's career in doubt, it's best to appreciate his skill while we can still witness it.
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