This isn't their first lockout. That's how long they've been around. Kevin Garnett was going into his fourth year when the 1998-99 season was cut short, and Tim Duncan was coming off a Rookie of the Year campaign.
I'm not going to go through their resumes here. If you don't know them by now, then you're in the wrong place. They are beyond legends. They are two of the best of the best. Once-in-a-generation type of players.
They are also both in the last year of their contracts. They will both turn 36 before a new champion is crowned and they've got a combined 30 years of NBA experience. They are, without a doubt, two of the best players the NBA has ever seen. And this ridiculousness is robbing us all of what very well could be their swan songs.
Garnett has already talked about retirement. Duncan has been quiet about it. But there's no quieting the advancing footsteps of father time. There's no bank shot pretty enough or chest thump angry enough to stop that.
The bottom line is these two giants of the game, should this truly be their final season, deserve better than this. They have meant too much to the game. They have meant too much to their cities. And they've meant too much to the fans. Players of this caliber deserve a graceful exit.
What they don't deserve is a season cut short by an ego-driven labor mess. What they don't deserve is to play out their final days in a league that has driven the casual fan into hibernation.
With each passing day, with each additional cancellation, fans that had recently been falling for the sport turn more apathetic. And while hardcore fans will remain, the casual fans who would learn about the game, its history, and its best players, will miss out on the true appreciation of what these guys meant to basketball. The fact is, after 14 to 16 years, you forget just how amazing these guys were in their younger years when their bodies would cooperate more readily with their minds and talent. With this lockout alienating more people as time passes, fewer people get to appreciate their true greatness.
And that's just sad. Because few people had the impact these guys did. Tim Duncan turned around an entire franchise and made it great for more than a decade. Kevin Garnett revolutionized what kind of player a seven-footer could be. And the things they did on the court were just... wow. Clinics on a nightly basis.
I don't want to turn this into a premature eulogy. But it's the type of stuff too many people will be missing because of this lockout. The constant appreciations of their careers are too important to young fans to miss.
But miss them they will, because this disgusting display (said with a nod to Johnny Most) is sullying the sport. These two deserve better than a season marred by labor fights, and they deserve better than a season that will largely be ignored. It's just another reason for us to hang our heads in disgust as this mess trudges on.
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