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1999 NBA Playoffs

Duncan: A quiet, boring, dominant MVP

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Posted: Monday June 28, 1999 09:45 PM

  Pop open the champagne: Tim Duncan cerebrates his Finals MVP honor with a little bubbly. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- He didn't wag his tongue or seal it with a memorable jumper while holding his shooting hand aloft for history to remember.

Tim Duncan did it his way: matter-of-factly, showing more substance than flash, with no need for nicknames, jewelry or anything but his game.

Duncan, the most valuable of San Antonio's Twin Towers, scored 31 points in another dominant performance Friday night to lead the San Antonio Spurs to their first NBA title in his second season in the league.

"It's going to be extremely difficult for me to put into words how this feels," said Duncan, whose game is playing, not talking.

"I don't think there are words to describe Tim Duncan," Spurs forward Sean Elliott said. "He's not flashy, he's not in your face, he doesn't have to intimidate people. He just goes out and plays the game with a lot of style, a lot of class."

Duncan topped 30 points for the second time in the series, making all the important shots as the Spurs beat the New York Knicks 78-77. He averaged 24 points and 17 rebounds in the series, lifting himself and the Spurs to the level that not even George "Iceman" Gervin and his high-scoring cohorts did for San Antonio in the 1980s.

There is nothing even remotely '80s, or even '90s, about Duncan, a native of the quiet Virgin Islands. He describes himself as a "boring guy," admits disliking the big, sprawling, noisy city that is New York.

There is no more clamorous, distracting place to have to win a championship, and even the low-key Duncan seemed to warm to the place. When Latrell Sprewell -- Duncan's controversial, notorious rival in this game -- missed his last two shots, Duncan jumped around and hugged as many teammates as he could find.

"That's about as much emotion as you're going to see out of him," Elliott said.

"I have no idea," Duncan said when asked how he would celebrate the championship. "I'll just celebrate as much as possible until I have to be in training camp in a couple of weeks."

Now, a year after Michael Jordan sealed his career with that memorable shot in Game 6 in Utah, a new star is born -- with a much different style.

"Duncan won the MVP? Really?" Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said facetiously. "That's a shock."

Said Elliott, "He's obviously the MVP of the league this year. You guys who didn't vote for him should be ashamed of yourself."

On a serious note, Van Gundy said, "Sometimes you can watch a guy play and know if he's really into winning or not. That guy's truly into winning."

Now they are talking about Duncan and saying he is the best player in the game. There was no one left at the end of this inexplicable season who was better.

"It's an incredible honor," Duncan said. "But all it means is that they're going to come at you harder next time. All you do is get a high off it all summer and come back at it next year."

Next year is not so much the question as two years from now, when Duncan will be a free agent. At one point during the playoffs, he said a new arena for the Spurs was an important factor in whether he has a future there.

So, maybe he has a little '90s athlete in him, after all.

"I love San Antonio. It's a great place," Duncan said. "I'd love to be there the rest of my career. ... I think we will get it done. I think we've given them a good reason to keep us there."

When the game was over, when Duncan had what might not be his last championship, he filmed the postgame celebration with a mini-cam corder.

"Just making records for myself," he said. "It's a blessing to do what we did here, and there's no guarantee we'll ever get back here."

Just in case, Duncan might want to hang on to that cam corder.

 
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