Tim Duncan beast on court, if not in press

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Duncan_628x471.jpgSan Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) drives while fouled by Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33), of Spain, in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn. The Spurs won 83-73. (AP Photo/Jim Weber) 

by Eliott C. McLaughlin

(CNN) — OK, readers, let’s have a debate, one of sports talk’s favorites. Who is the best player in the NBA? Is it Kevin Durant, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant?

Scroll down to the comments and sound off. Go, now. I’ll wait.

All done? Good. Now, how many of you called me short-sighted (or “an Obama-loving imbecile,” if you’re a troll) for neglecting to include the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan?

Not many, I venture, at least not if you’re outside the Greater Alamo Area. But how can he objectively be omitted from the debate?

“His game is shrouded in fundamentals and not athleticism,” said former NBA sharpshooter Steve Kerr, a TNT analyst who will call Saturday’s Game 6 between James’ Heat and the Indiana Pacers. “What he does isn’t flashy, isn’t explosive. He prefers the shadow. He doesn’t want to be in the spotlight.”

Yet he’s a winner. That can’t be argued, and with his résumé, it’s curious he doesn’t get more credit — and that less-talented fellows like Metta World Peace get more press, even if it’s because of their antics.

Fans profess to yearn for good guys, yet when presented with a stalwart, they yawn or change the channel. Last week’s news of Duncan’s possible divorce from his wife of 11 years is one of the few, maybe only, instances of off-court negative press in his career.

Kerr said he can’t explain it.

“Why do people watch reality TV? Why do people watch the Kardashians? Just consider your audience,” he said. “It’s true that there’s a fairly hypocritical nature, not just to sports fans but human beings. It’s human nature to be fascinated by the bizarre or the crazy or the flashy and not the mundane.”

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