Norris Cole: ‘I know people love the Kobe era, but Tim Duncan had a lot to say in that era’

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA guard Norris Cole gave San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan some major love when discussing his experience playing against him in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals.

Cole, who was a member of the Miami Heat at the time, got an up-close look at Duncan in both of those series, with the Heat winning the title in 2013 and the Spurs winning in 2014.

“This was after Tim Duncan was prime – this was past his prime,” Cole said. “He still averaged like 19 and 11 that series. He could have won Finals MVP just as well as Kawhi [Leonard].”

Leonard ended up winning the Finals MVP award in 2014, but Duncan was terrific in both of the Finals matchups against Miami.

In the 2012-13 season, when the Heat defeated the Spurs in seven games, Duncan averaged 18.9 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game against Miami while shooting 49.0 percent from the field.

His numbers didn’t dip much the following season when the Spurs defeated Miami in just five games, as he averaged 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 56.9 percent from the field in the Finals.

Duncan was over the age of 35 in both of those series, showing just how impressive it was for him to put up those numbers at his age.

While Duncan played in an era that was highlighted by Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, Cole believes that Duncan deserves a lot of respect for what he did during that time.

“Tim Duncan is one of the GOATs (greatest of all time),” Cole said. “Tim Duncan, bro. I know people love the Kobe era, but Tim Duncan had a lot to say in that era. Tim Duncan had a lot to say in that era.”

Duncan and Bryant both won five NBA titles in their careers, and Duncan also won two league MVP awards to Bryant’s one.

Even though Duncan and the Spurs knocked Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal out of the playoffs in the 1998-99 season, going on to win the title, the Lakers did respond by eventually putting together three straight NBA Finals wins with Bryant and O’Neal leading the way.

Cole showed love to the two Lakers legends, but he doesn’t want Duncan’s accomplishments to be forgotten.

“I don’t let it go under the radar,” Cole said. “He had Shaq and Kobe in the same conference, and he beat them a couple times. Matter of fact, he won in ‘99 and beat them. And then they went on the dynasty. And then after that, he (was) like, ‘Hold up, let me get my dynasty going.’”

Duncan won the NBA Finals with San Antonio in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. The fact that he was able to get back to the Finals to face Cole, LeBron James and the Heat’s Big 3 multiple times is extremely impressive.

Cole, who won two titles in his NBA career with the Heat, clearly has a ton of respect for Duncan after matching up with him on the biggest stage the NBA has to offer.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.