SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green likened Tim Duncan to a superhero on the heels of the team’s 108-88 thumping of the Atlanta Hawks, mere minutes after the 39-year-old veteran pulled a disappearing act from the locker room.
“He does it all,” Green said. “He doesn’t get old. He doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t get out of shape. I don’t think there’s anything that Tim can’t do.”
Duncan flashed as much in pulling down a season-high 18 rebounds Saturday in addition to contributing 10 points in San Antonio’s victory. Duncan produced those numbers in just three quarters of action as the Spurs sat a majority of their key players with the club starting the fourth quarter ahead 21 points.
Duncan became the fourth player 39 or older to finish a game with at least 18 rebounds, joining Dikembe Mutumbo, Karl Malone and Robert Parish. Prior to Duncan’s performance, Mutumbo accomplished the feat most recently, on March 2, 2007, when, at 40, he became the oldest player in NBA history to tally more than 20 rebounds in a game (22).
In posting his fifth double-double of the season, Duncan also became the first player since Mutumbo to record a double-double with at least 18 rebounds at 39 or older.
He’s been doing it for so long, we take him for granted,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I just told those guys they played well, and I didn’t even know he got 18 [rebounds]. I’ll have to go back in there and tell him again how good he was.”
Along with some memorabilia in the form of a decorative box and a miniature helmet of his favorite NFL team, the Chicago Bears, a basketball rested in the corner of Duncan’s locker, long since vacated. It’s unknown whether that basketball was a game ball awarded to Duncan for Saturday night’s outing, but that’s of little consequence.
Just eight days earlier, Duncan finished a game with no rebounds for the first time in his 19-year career.
“He got lucky,” joked Boris Diaw. “I was boxing out for him most of the time. It’s good. Obviously, he didn’t play yesterday [a 91-80 win in Denver]. So he was rested. But great energy. That’s something he can do: go into a game and get 20 [points and] 20 [rebounds]. He still can do that any given night; probably not every night.”
On the other side of the locker room, Green compared Duncan to the Marvel Comics character Wolverine.
“If he were to answer, he’d probably say Punisher or something,” Green said. “I’d probably say like Wolverine. He heals pretty fast. He doesn’t age. So there you go.”
Duncan ranks as one of just two players in NBA history to record at least 26,000 points, 14,000 rebounds and 2,500 blocks over a career, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and last season became the 11th player in NBA history to reach 14,000 rebounds.
Kawhi Leonard, who led the Spurs with a game-high 22 points, eschewed comic-book heroes in his description of Duncan.
“He just does a good job of keeping his body healthy, working out smart. It’s a mindset. He still wants to compete every night, and wants to win,” Leonard said. “I’m not too big on Marvel characters. He’s just one person: Tim Duncan. Nobody else is doing what he’s doing. [It’s] his 19th year. Probably the only person you can compare him to is Kareem, playing 20 years and still being that effective. He’s one of a kind.”