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NBA Finals: Two Titans Converge At Center Stage

Giants in their own right, Tim Duncan and LeBron James will lead their respective teams through the 2014 NBA Finals in a convergence that can ultimately decide where they stand among the giants that came before them.

LeBron James Tim Duncan
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LeBron James Tim Duncan

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Giants in their own right, Tim Duncan and LeBron James will lead their respective teams through the 2014 NBA Finals in a convergence that can ultimately decide where they stand among the giants that came before them. For Duncan, a fifth championship could put him in fertile ground to compete for the tile of Best Player Since Jordan (for now) and would certainly cement him as not only the game’s best power forward but as a top-3, or 4,  big man. For James, championship No. 3, and a third straight at that, would help in the running legacy battle against MJ and it would solidify his status as an ultimate competitor as it would come against a Duncan-led, Popovich-coached, runnin’ and gunnin’ machine known as the San Antonio Spurs. Much is at stake.

Of course, much of the nation is secretly and not-so-secretly rooting for the Spurs because many love to hate Miami. Throughout their legacies, Duncan has proved that he is the ultimate franchise player: someone who will bring home championships, MVPs, a winning effort, a coachable grace, and do it well under his market rate. He represents the Build It movement. James, not so much. He could have stayed in Cleveland to try his hand at more championship runs with organically built teams but instead he darted for South Beach. To make matters worse, he hooked up with longtime buddies and promised the world championships before he even knew how big it would be. He represents the Buy It faction.

So, not only are these two titans about to wage battle over their own individual laurels but they philosophically represent two sides of a moral debate. Duncan stands for loyalty, humility, and dedication. James for reward, force and unlimited talent.

Rather impressively, the two players have almost identical total wins in the last 10 years. Duncan stands at 622 and James at 621. If this finals goes to seven games, with James winning it, they would stand pat at 628 each. It’s like it was written in some ancient basketball picture, except in this case, both participants are Goliaths.

Of course, it can’t remain unsaid that Duncan has never played with the type of talent LeBron has around him at the moment. With the best shooter of all time, a top-4 all-time shooting guard, and a versatile big man who would be a top-20 player on any other team, James is surrounded with talent that seams even more potent when remembering who Duncan was paired with when he took on the New Jersey Nets in 2003.

But for the King, this could very well be just another notch on a belt whose length is still being decided. With the right offseason moves, the Heat, alongside LeBron, could be on the short list for championships as long as the Eastern Conference remains a wasteland of competitiveness. At this stage in time, James has more to prove than Duncan. At one point that could have been his downfall. But today, it just might be his launchpad.

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