It’s in San Antonio Spurs franchise star Tim Duncan’s nature to be mild-mannered and reserved and unfortunately, it’s put a target on his back.
Even when he was playing, San Antonio Spurs superstar Tim Duncan had a target on his back due to his mild demeanor. Timmy was never particularly flashy on the court and certainly wasn’t flashy away from it. He kept to himself, worked hard, put his head down and always pushed forward toward the ultimate goal of winning NBA championships, which he did five times.
Duncan is the only NBA player in history to make 15 All-Defensive teams over the course of his career, asserting himself as a dominant rim defender and one of the most prolific rebounders to ever play the sport. The Big Fundamental was never someone who you could easily push around, and yet now that he’s retired, he gets a lot of mud tossed on his legacy in this league.
Individuals who played against him and even some who played with him have used his name to draw attention to themselves by trashing his stature in NBA history. His rings have been disparaged by players of lesser stature. Tim’s leadership has been trivialized by players who were pernicious to his pursuit of greatness and most importantly, his success has been downplayed because he didn’t put on as much of a show as some of his contemporaries.
Tim Duncan during his 19 year career➖➖➖5x Champ3x Finals MVP2x MVP15x All-Star15x All-NBA15x All-Defense1998 ROTY
• Never missed the Playoffs
• Only player in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one franchise
• Top 10 All-Time in Rebounds / Blocks
— Hilltop Hoops (@HilltopNBA) May 22, 2020
His nature is that of a leader by example; a master at his craft who did everything in his power to be a guiding force for those around him in pursuit of their common desire to earn an NBA championship. As Spurs fans have come to realize, Tim Duncan isn’t ever going to be one of the most outspoken individuals on the team. That’s part of the reason why his relationship with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker is so strong.
Being vocal isn’t the only way to be a leader and charisma comes in many different forms. There have been leaders like Magic Johnson who thrive under the spotlight and command a room like a stand-up comic in a music hall. Then, there are the Michael Jordans of the world who took more of a heavy-handed leadership style, antagonizing his teammates into being the best versions of themselves.
Tim Duncan’s form of leadership came by setting an example for those around him. Maybe he wasn’t going to rally the troops through inspiring words, though he would when he felt it was necessary, but he did show them what it takes to earn their place on his team and in the rotation.
For Timmy, the most burdensome reasoning for the slander he receives has nothing to do with him at all but instead is based on the time that he played and the people he faced.
There are fans, and then there are stans and the latter tend to be more toxic in their viewpoints of NBA history. Few players grew such cult followings as the late-great Kobe Bryant and since he and Duncan retired at the same time, Kobe stans have taken their ignorance to another level.
Bryant and Duncan deserve to be compared and held in high esteem alongside each other, but the argument used in favor of Kobe over Tim is that he had a better mentality. It’s said that Duncan was boring and didn’t do enough to compare without really taking a look at the numbers or just how impactful Timmy was to his team as well as the league in its entirety.
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However, Kobe himself knew that Duncan had more to him than meets the eye. When Timmy retired in the 2016 offseason, The Black Mamba revealed that he was an admirer of Duncan to reporter Marc Stein, stating his adversary was “More cutthroat than people give him credit for. I loved everything about him on the court.”
Time and time again, the greatest players of all-time have lauded Duncan for his supreme mastery of the sport. I’m not going to draw every quote out of the woodwork, but you can do your research: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan continuously noted Duncan’s incredible talent and impact on the game from a young age. One of Duncan’s biggest admirers is basketball purist LeBron James, who has spoken on Timmy’s influence over the sport and on his own career.
We don’t need to rehash Duncan’s resume right now to make the point that he’s one of the best to ever play the sport. There’s never been a power forward as good as Tim Duncan and just because he wasn’t the most outspoken player doesn’t mean it’s right to minimize his place in NBA history.
It’s the duty of Spurs fans and basketball purists to stand up for Duncan’s legacy because he’s not going to come out and do it himself.