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Tim Duncan: For The Love Of The Game

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He was different when he was a teenager while at Wake Forest University. No matter when he decided to come out of school he was destined to be the #1 pick but Tim Duncan was different. Duncan wanted to stay, not an extra year, but another two. He wanted to stay a kid for as long as he could, and while we cursed his decision we would only come to understand it years later.

The San Antonio Spurs got lucky, not lucky like winning horseshoes but mega million lucky. The Spurs were coming off a dismal season, after their star player David Robinson went down with an injury. The team was an annual playoff participant but Robinson’s injury while crushing at the time turned into the Willy Wonka Jackpot. With 20 wins the Spurs ended up with the rights to draft first, thus resulting in the Duncan and Robinson paring that would go on to win a NBA Title in only their 2nd season together.

When Robinson retired the torch was passed to Duncan but it wasn’t just the torch to the Spurs. Robinson along with Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing were the best big men in the game. When Robinson left, he left not only the keys to the Spurs but the legacy as well.

Duncan was given the green light.

Every year while healthy enough to play Duncan made the playoffs, not Kobe Bryant nor Michael Jordan can say that. Duncan has accomplished so much but you will never know by looking at him. There are no monster billboards plasters over Foot Locker, Champs or Madison Ave with his face endorsing some crazy product. Duncan wasn’t into the in your face sportsmanship that goes on in today’s NBA. Did he have friends on or off the court, who knew but for 19 seasons he gave his all the Spurs, NBA and fans.

Winning was what he prided himself on and he did that quite often and well. Duncan and the Spurs won 5 titles during his time and it would’ve been six had Popovich not taken him out during Game 6 against the Miami Heat. But that situation there is why I have so much respect for Timmy. He knew and understood the chain of command. When Pop took him out he was mad, you saw it on his face but there was no back talk, he sat quietly as Ray Allen hit the biggest shot of his career. He didn’t attack his coach in the press, he answered question in his low-key voice and suited up for Game 7. As his career began to wind down and the Spurs went looking for his replacement, he didn’t sulk, he understood what was going on, he took the young Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge under his wing and showed them how to play basketball the Spurs way.

Did Duncan deserve a Kobe send off. Yes, but did he want one, no.

That’s not his style. He didn’t like all the attention. His retirement was well calculated. He knew last season this was his last ride but didn’t say anything to take the spotlight away from Kobe, it was his time not Duncan’s. During the offseason he would’ve done it then but he waited until the NBA Draft was over, then he waited a while longer until free agency period over. Why you think they signed Pau Gasol?

That’s Tim Duncan. He was the ultimate warrior. No showboating, no scandals, just a basketball player who entered the league, played in the league and left the league on his own terms.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com