Tim Duncan… Class & Quiet Dignity

July11/ 2016

If Bob Harris was/is The Last of A Breed, what do we consider Tim Duncan? Tim Duncan may be simply a One-Man Anomaly.

Has there ever been anyone else…. kinda like Tim Duncan.

Will there ever be any one about whom they will say reminds us of Tim Duncan?

Tim Duncan retired today after 19 years as a San Antonio Spur.

How many high profile athletes have gone about their business in such a quiet unassuming manner…. Performing at the very highest level for two decades…. Being a part of multiple “world champions” …. while steering clear of media-fueled scandals and jackassified controversy.

Lets use the criteria of:

….. an athlete who played AGAINST your favorite team and beat them more often than not; but did so in such a manner you could not gin up the usual jealous hatred and dislike for them. ….. MAYBE Derek Jeter ….. Akeem Olajuwon ….. David Robinson ….. Stan Musial…. it is a very short list.

I wonder if Chansky and Woody dissed Tim Duncan when he was a Deacon?

Jack Nicklaus became that sort of guy but when a young “Fat Jack” was beating Arnie in those early years he was “the villain”.

Now Tim Duncan retires as that rarest of all professional athletes …. One First-ballot HoF Career / One Team …. move over George Brett, Robin Yount, Jeter, Cal “The Iron Man” and a half dozen or so others. You can’t include “old timers” on that list because there was not “Free Agency” in their era. In honor of tomorrow’s ASG, lets include Tony Gwynn and his Padres.

If I challenged you to come up with something / anything “negative” about Tim Duncan, the “best” (?) you might come up with – he went thru a divorce 5-6 years ago.  Really…. that’s the best you got? I’m sure “that” raised some speculation and rumors around San Antonio but there was never any OMG scandal that “went national”.  Tim left all that stuff to Tony Parker and Eva Longoria.

How might Tim’s career and reputation have evolved in a more combative media market? Could he have navigated NYC as well as Jeter did? We will never know.   The social media sewer is everywhere even in San Antonio. I’m sure Duncan has had his share of scum-sucking trolls trying to disparage him. Who hasn’t?

Does relentless media attention create character flaws or reveal existing character flaws? Nature versus Nurture ??

When Tim was a free agent 10-12 years ago, he made a few visits to a few teams but there was never any real concern that he would leave what he had in San Antonio, and Popp, for more $$$ or a sexier city etc.

One got the impression when it came to $$$$, Duncan was of the Ol’ Roy School of Thought….. how many golf balls does one man need?

I bet his San DuncanHouseAntonio home is very very nice but likely not even the biggest / fanciest on his block. I bet his drives a comfortable SUV…. Not a Lambo or Ferrari.

A look back at Tim Duncan’s entire career tells us a lot about WHY he was the type of Professional Athlete he was…..

He came out of St Croix, Virgin Islands as an unheralded “find” by Dave Odom. He was not a Mickey D nor an AAU Blue Chipper. He chose “little Wake Forest” because, well I’m not sure why, maybe his other choices were even more “not juggernauts”. Maybe he just liked Dave Odom. Most everybody “likes Dave Odom” so that is likely.

He stayed all four years and graduated from WFU with his degree in a for-real major that does not end in “Studies”. Even 20 years ago, no All-American Big Man EVER stayed all four years. Tyler Hansbrough would at UNC but his NBA potential was never projected to be akin to Duncan…. which has proven to be the case.

Other than Spurs fans around San Antonio who might have encountered Duncan around town over 20 years and maybe seen him either smile or grimace…. The rest of us only saw a placid expression behind a slightly bowed head …. The “bowed head” likely a by-product of “tall man’s syndrome” ducking under door sills and trying in vain to not stand out in every room you have entered since you were 16.

DuncanRobinsonEven in a league of very tall men, Tim Duncan was tall save for a few Manute Bols.

Did having “The Admiral” David Robinson as a mentor in his early NBA career help? Probably, but it wasn’t like Tim Duncan The Man was ever “at a character tipping point”.

I have no clue what Tim Duncan’s politics is, nor do I care to know. Today ESPN CEO John Skipper (UNC’75) on-air employees are encouraging AfAm pro athletes to support Black Lives Matter and to glorify the massacre of five Dallas policemen. I bet Tim Duncan doesn’t take that bait. I sure hope not.

I don’t know if Tim Duncan has ever been accused of “not being Black enough”. I suspect he has. He came from middle-class parents in The Caribbean …. not an urban war zone. He was not concerned about “disrespect” or “gotta be me” or all that other clichéd angry black guy stuff.

Those who laud a dabbing Cam will decry my lauding of Tim Duncan.  To each his own….

Another Tim Duncan anomaly was his hair. He had two styles over 20 years ….. (1) clean shaved “Mr Clean” and (2) short. He did sport a close-cropped beard in his later years. Yes…. He had shoulder and arm tatts but I don’t know their message or if there was “a message”.

If he disagreed with a referee’s call he might give a shoulder shrug or a raised eyebrow…. Maybe. He probably got ejected a time or two that I am not aware. Nobody is perfect. He spent 19 years “in the paint” jousting with giants with attitudes and elbows. OK, he was “a giant” too but still…..

Tim Duncan’s nickname became The Big Fundamental because his game was based on consistently playing the game like he was taught to by his coaches along the way. No high-flying thunder dunks for Tim. Economy of movement and being in the right place at the right time.  A CNR kinda player for sure.  🙂

While Tim’s last 2-3 games against The Thunder were NOT Duncan-esque, they were not “Willie Mays as a Met” by any means.

I bet every NBA fan who has enjoyed Tim Duncan’s career was so hoping he would simply retire as befits his reputation. No hyped-up LOOK AT ME  Farewell Tour with dopey gifts and equally dopey platitudes around the NBA.

As with his entire career….. Tim Duncan retires from The NBA like Tim Duncan did everything.

With Class & Quiet Dignity.


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