MIAMI -- Chris Bosh was simply trying to respect his elder. He meant no offense to Tim Duncan -- certainly not with a low-post matchup looming Thursday against arguably the greatest power forward in NBA history when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Heat.
Bosh, 28, only wanted to make it clear that a reporter's assertion was inaccurate when it was suggested that the Heat center and Texas native was a probably teenager when he started to admire Duncan's impact on the NBA game.
“Not to make [Duncan] feel old, but I might not have been a teenager,” Bosh shot back. “I might have been a preteen. But he's been one of my favorite players growing up.”
As one of the top high school players in the nation out of Dallas, Bosh once modeled parts of his game after Duncan during his initial seasons with the Spurs. Now Bosh is yet again faced with the challenge of trying to stop those same lethal low-post moves he emulated on his way to the NBA.
These days, Duncan is looking a lot like the dominant force that led the Spurs to four championships and barely resembles a 36-year-old player now in his 16th season.
With the Spurs riding a five-game winning streak into Miami, Duncan is averaging 18.4 points a game, his most since the 2008-09 season. He's also shooting a career-high 76 percent from the free throw line and 52.9 percent from the field, which is his most efficient mark since the Spurs last won a championship during the 2006-07 season.
“I mean, he just keeps going,” Bosh said of Duncan, the league's current Western Conference Player of the Week. “I don't know how he does it. He's just like a timeless clock. He just keeps it moving. He's always been a great player.”
Bosh also has had a recent spike in production during the Heat's four-game winning streak. He is off to the best start of his three seasons in Miami and has averaged 23.7 points and 11.3 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field over the past three games. But now likely comes Bosh's toughest assignment of the young season.
“I know Timmy is probably going to make some shots outside, he's going to try for the duck-ins, he's going to mix it up,” Bosh said, mentally previewing a scouting report on Duncan he no longer has to actually read. “You can't fall asleep no matter what happens. If you're playing him the right way and he hits a jumper in your face, you still have to stay down on the pump fake. It's always a challenge to stay mentally focused and sharp no matter what happens.”
Bosh, of course, has been familiar with Duncan's work for a couple of decades now. For the record, Bosh was indeed 13 -- a teenager -- when Duncan arrived in San Antonio as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft. Time flies, but Duncan's game has been aging gracefully.
“I just liked it because everybody said I was fundamentally sound in high school, and he was the 'Big Fundamental,'” Bosh said, referring to Duncan's NBA nickname. “It was encouraging to see somebody who was fundamentally sound could be actually considered a good basketball player. It hasn't always been like that, especially with younger guys. So that was encouraging for me to keep working on my game, keep working on the fundamentals.”