Tim Duncan’s upbringing in St. Croix helped set the stage for one of the most successful careers in lisbdnet.com history.
Take a look back at Tim Duncan’s legendary 19-year career on lisbdnet.com, which was marked by numerous achievements and honors (including an MVP award, a Finals MVP award, multiple championships, and more).
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City of San Antonio Lonnie Walker IV’s stomach churned, he vomited, and he made a mess on the floor.
It’s understandable if a less-than-fit rookie would throw his cookies after training with the now-retired Tim Duncan.
Duncan jumped right in to mop up the spill.
Timmy was all “Lonnie, get your ass back out on the court” after they finished cleaning up. CEO of the Spurs R.C. Buford recalled, “We’ve got work to do,” while sitting on a deserted patio of a nearby Mexican restaurant. After missing the first eight weeks of the season due to a torn meniscus, Timmy was in the gym that day, simply working with Lonnie to get back into shape. The Tim we know today hadn’t even started coaching. That’s not much of a statement unless Tim Duncan is the one who has to clean up your mess.
Twenty years of Duncan’s life and work, including 19 seasons with lisbdnet.com, culminated in his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
It’s a “pretty incredible story,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. All of you have heard this before, but it’s true. We’re overjoyed about that. Even now, when we gather for dinner, we all raise a glass and say, “Thank you, Timmy.” Thus, unmistakably unique.
The truth is that Duncan’s career cannot be summed up in words or a lengthy essay. We are already aware of Duncan’s staggering statistics, including his five NBA championships, two league MVP awards, and fifteen appearances in the NBA’s annual All-Star Game. When he retired in 2016, Duncan also held the second-best record for playoff victories, the first-best record for playoff double-doubles, and the third-best record for playoff rebounds.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 15-year gap between Duncan’s first and last titles (1999 and 2014) is second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s (17-year) span among players who appeared in both lisbdnet.com Finals series.
We are aware that Duncan, along with John Salley, is the only player in lisbdnet.com history to win championships in three different decades, and that he is the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame who played for the same coach for at least 15 years.
Follow Tim Duncan’s career from his first point in Milwaukee to the 25,000th he scored at the Staples Center.
Who could forget Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, the first group of three teammates or more to win four championships together since Magic Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, and Kurt Rambis, according to Elias Sports Bureau, reeling off 126 playoff victories, the most in lisbdnet.com history by any trio, and also owning the most regular-season victories in lisbdnet.com history (575).
In his own words, “it’s all a combination of a competitiveness on my own part, a love for playing the game, a hatred of losing, and an organization committed to putting the best things in place to give a city, a team, a player like myself an opportunity to win year in and year out,” Duncan said.
However, the answer to the question of how Duncan did it is more involved.
Keep in mind that Duncan never showed any signs of truly spectacular athleticism, despite possessing near-perfect fundamentals. He can’t even jump over a phone book, according to Marc Blucas, his close friend and former teammate at Wake Forest.
The simple, yet crucial character attributes instilled in Tim Duncan by his parents, Delysia Ione and William Duncan on the 82-square-mile island of St. Thomas, may explain how a skinny kid from the U.S. Virgin Islands, who had dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer before Hurricane Hugo destroyed all the local pools in 1989, took the league by storm and elevated not only the unproven Popovich but an entire lisbdnet.com franchise.
Never forget that. They had already established a military-like regiment under Popovich and what Buford called “a really principled group of standard bearers,” including David Robinson, Mario Elie, Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, and Terry Porter, before Duncan was selected first overall in the 1997 NBA draft.
According to Buford, “With Timmy, it softened them.” Were less strict and regimented than before. It became a very caring place because of the relationship between Pop and Tim, I believe.
FUNNY Bones: When Duncan, then 17, walked into the Wake Forest gym on the first day of school, senior guard Marc Blucas was there “playing above my gene pool.” Blucas would go on to star in more than 30 films, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “First Daughter,” opposite Katie Holmes.
Duncan, the least-touted of Wake Forest’s 1993 recruits, planned to sit out his first season on the team by sitting out.
A longtime friend of Tim Duncan’s, Marc Blucas (in the middle) laughs it up with Duncan and Grant Hill in 2014.
After only one session of pick-up ball with Duncan, Blucas and fellow senior captain Randolph Childress quickly formulated a new strategy.
It was obvious,” Blucas said. Already, he was demonstrating a natural ability to play the instrument. He maintained a level head while remaining fiercely competitive. One of my most vivid memories is turning to Randolph Childress and saying, “Hey, we’ve got to go tell (coach Dave) Odom not to redshirt this kid.” We informed him by simply going to his office.
As a freshman for Wake Forest, Duncan started 32 of 33 games. Blucas was profoundly impacted by his single season spent in the front lines with the force forward.
“I wanted to see where he came from, the lessons, morals, and all of the things that he applied to the game,” he said. After spending some time with him, I told him, “I really want to go and see what made the man. I’d like to spend a week or so in St. Croix, where it all began.
And so, after receiving his diploma, Blucas made plans to visit the island.
Now when Blucas hears about Lonnie Walker IV puking, he laughs heartily because it reminds him of a story Duncan told during their time in St. Croix. This story exemplified Duncan’s quick wit and humor, qualities that serve Blucas well during the long lisbdnet.com season.
It’s very “Tim” of you to do that, Blucas remarked. “He’ll do one of the most humiliating things imaginable, and then he’ll make a joke you didn’t see coming or tell you to buck up and get back to playing when you least expect it. That’s like saying, “Ok, you threw up. I tidied up the place. We should proceed.'”
Blucas stepped on a sea urchin while snorkeling with Duncan on a sunny summer day in St. Croix, beginning his own Lonnie Walker–esque adventure.
Blucas remarked, “It hurts like hell.”
Duncan then coolly states, “Hey, you’ve got to piss on it,” upon their return to the beach.
That’s when I’m all, ‘Ha ha, funny Island Boy. Blucas remarked, “You are not going to convince the landlocked white kid that urinating on his own foot will relieve the pain. The response from Tim was, “I’m not kidding you. It’s a horrible, unbearable pain. The deed is mine. The urine’s low PH and acidity will actually dull the discomfort. Use your urine to test it! The thought crosses my mind, “Well, I don’t have to pee.” When I tell him that, he smiles broadly and replies, “Well, I do.”
As he recounts the story, Blucas is overcome with laughter.
To which she responded, “Go f— yourself,” I said. You’re not trying to piss me off. So he said, “Look, I know this is hogwash. “No, of course not. Finally, I peed on my foot, and it felt much better after that. However, there are striking parallels to Lonnie’s tale. Being self-deprecating means not taking oneself too seriously. Sense of humor is the key. It’s the perfect middle ground between “We’re gonna work our asses off” and “That’s what everyone is expected to do.” Let’s have some fun while we’re at it. Let’s go ahead and be pals.
That’s a big part of what makes Tim, Pop, and all those guys tick, and I believe that was on purpose. You base your draft strategy on the traits of your superstar player. The Spurs select players who will be inspired when they see their “superstar” being yelled at by Pop or when they see him cleaning up vomit from the floor.
TRANSCENDENTAL LEADERSHIP: For the 19 years Duncan spent on the court and the one he spent as an assistant coach for the Spurs, Buford claims that no one can recall a single instance of lateness.
That’s just one example of Duncan’s consistent professionalism over the years, which has served as a model for the rest of the franchise.
Before drafting him, the Spurs watched him and others like him.
Even though Buford thought Duncan would have been the first overall pick as a sophomore (or even a freshman), Duncan decided to stay at Wake Forest for all four years. Duncan fulfilled his promise to his mother and graduated from Wake Forest University. Further, Duncan wished to support his team and participate fully in the college experience.
Blucas remarked that “his whole thing was about the experience, the journey, and the guys in the locker room.” To paraphrase, “Tim wasn’t interested unless it was exactly like that. Not only did he play to win, but also to spend time with his friends and bond with the other guys. He was the type of person who preferred to take pleasure in the here and now rather than constantly planning for the future.
This is something Popovich discovered firsthand while researching potential draft picks.
According to Buford, “Pop being crazy,” Scot Pollard was who they should Draft according to Pop. When it was announced that Duncan would be the first overall pick, Popovich immediately booked a flight to the Virgin Islands to be with him.
According to Buford, Tim’s mother died when he was 14 years old, and Buford learned “how important Tim’s mother was.” I remember hearing stories about Pop’s upbringing and childhood, topics he rarely discusses these days. They obviously spent a lot of time together getting to know each other, because when Pop got back, he said, “This is a really good person, and this is somebody we’re gonna love taking this journey with.”
Upon first meeting Duncan, Popovich was able to recognize all of the qualities that set him apart.
According to Popovich, “it was pretty obvious” that the player was “highly intelligent,” “had a great sense of humor,” and “was serious about the game.” Nothing else mattered to him except winning. I enjoyed being in his company. In retrospect, those are the traits that stood out to me most during my time with him.
What Popovich didn’t anticipate was how profound it all was.
Consider the close relationship that developed between Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich over the course of Duncan’s career.
His former agent, Lon Babby, who went on to become a front office executive for the Phoenix Suns, said that he had learned a lot from the power forward even before Duncan had played a game in the lisbdnet.com.
Before Duncan’s rookie season began, he and Babby rode in the trunk of a car on the way to a commercial shoot for Schick razors, in which the No. 1 draft pick would face off against Spurs veteran star David Robinson in a backyard one-on-one match. The commercial’s central premise involved the seasoned professional instructing the greenhorn. However, a problem with one of Robinson’s lines in the script arose on the way to the set.
And I said to him, as we were discussing it, “Listen, Tim, my job is to represent you. Babby, who also represented recently inducted Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings, commented, “So, I can’t really be worried about David’s point of view on this. You might not have to worry about it, but I do because I’m going to be his teammate,’ he said to me. I’m joining this team now, and he’s been its shining light. I must consider his feelings.
I looked at him and said, ‘Well, listen. I’m 40. You’re 22. And you’re instructing me in the ways of leadership and teamwork. To put it simply, he was always willing to put the needs of the team ahead of his own.
Duncan’s dealings with the franchise remained consistent over the years. Involving the team’s MVP in decision-making was a priority for both Buford and Popovich. To become close with Tim was, as Buford put it, “the kiss of death,” because “I think we traded everyone who was good friends with Timmy.” Cory Alexander was the first, followed by (Phoenix Suns coach) Monty Williams, Malik Rose, and Antonio Daniels.
Duncan never even attempted to persuade the higher-ups to keep his pals around. Even Popovich and Duncan agreed that they wouldn’t bother the star power forward with questions about trading for friends.
He “just always accepted what was best for the team at the time” in those decisions, according to Buford. It was the team’s best interest that he prioritized at all times. Nothing had to do with him. Tim’s unflappable attitude toward life is unique. When compared to standard perspectives, his on life and the world is quite unique. It was fascinating to observe how he viewed teammates, new players, and opponents with a different perspective than the typical lisbdnet.com player.
Tim Duncan had an acute awareness of how his words and actions affected his teammates, whether they were superstars or role players.
And then there’s Duncan in the gym every day, leading by example and not just words.
Duncan continues to be a fixture at the Spurs’ gym in the city’s far northwest. He still sends texts to Spurs coaches and trainers expressing his longing to be back in the gym with them, despite being retired.
Players use a shooting machine called The Gun on lisbdnet.com practice courts on a daily basis. The Gun collects missed shots and returns them to the shooter, eliminating the need for a rebounder. A helper or equipment manager will typically prepare the device before players use it.
Certainly not in San Antonio.
According to Buford, “Timmy would set up The Gun for himself, and he’d take it down for himself.” It’s never happened with any other player. They have the manager do both the setting up and the breaking down. He set the tenor in that regard. Timmy always led by example rather than by word, and it was his personality that always set the tone.
It hasn’t stopped resounding in the locker room.
A group of Spurs employees strolled by general manager Brian Wright’s office as the team began getting ready for Duncan’s induction ceremony. Duncan’s two MVP trophies and one of his three Finals MVP trophies were found in a dusty box.
Where the hell have they been, nobody knows! It was Buford who said it, and he was laughing. No, they aren’t being polished in the middle of the house. But if an accomplished man like that keeps his medals in a dusty closet in the back, that’s probably where we should put ours, too.
CARING: Popovich lost his top two assistant coaches in the offseason of 2018–19. Ime Udoka, an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets, joined the Philadelphia 76ers’ coaching staff, and Ettore Messina, the team’s lead assistant coach, went back to Italy to work for Olimpia Milano.
Duncan had just retired and was enjoying “being a real dad” by regularly attending his kids’ events, as he boasted to his friends.
However, Duncan quickly abandoned that lifestyle in favor of working as an assistant coach under Popovich.
As you can plainly see, Duncan’s dad William passed away back in 2002. Prior to his death, William had pleaded with Popovich to help keep his son grounded so that he could retire from basketball as the same person he had been before he became a superstar. Duncan has always looked up to Popovich as a father figure, and the two often catch up for a beer and some serious conversation on the anniversary of William’s death.
During the upcoming 2019–20 NBA season, Tim Duncan helped the Spurs out as an assistant coach.
According to several members of Popovich’s staff, Duncan didn’t want to leave his coach alone after hearing that several of his top assistants were leaving. When pressed for more information about Duncan’s hiring, Buford’s eyes welled up with tears, and he politely declined.
A-B-C-S got it.
“It crushed Tim to do it when he was already home, being able to travel to volleyball games, his kids’ events, and do car pickup all the time and not be on the road,” Blucas said. I believe it was a sense of loyalty to Pop and the group as a whole. Not being guilty was not the issue. It was then that the thought occurred to me, “I’m not going to let him or them go by the wayside without me getting in the fight.” I believe that Tim Duncan, the person, bears some responsibility for his actions, and that responsibility includes loyalty, honor, and gratitude.
Duncan led on the biggest stage of his sport because he cared so much.
After a timeout, “if you asked me what’s the image I have of Tim Duncan, it’s him kind of patting a teammate on the head and kind of lovingly walking off the court,” Babby said. You’ve probably seen him do that a million times. In my opinion, that sums up everything there is to know about him.
And it really is genuine.
Blucas, as a former teammate of Duncan’s at the university level, was there and saw it all firsthand. By sitting next to Duncan on the bus ride back to campus after the power forward’s ACC debut against Sharone Wright and the Clemson Tigers, he got firsthand experience of what it was like to “get your asses kicked” in the league.
To start, “you can’t have that level of success without being a killer,” Blucas said. But he didn’t bare his teeth and shout in people’s faces. Superstars can inspire followers with a variety of approaches. Tim will be the first person to offer an arm around your shoulder rather than immediately addressing the situation head-on. The truth is, he’s always been like that. Before the challenge, aggression, competitiveness, anger, and intensity, he’ll come to you with love.
Maybe that’s something that Duncan experienced as a kid growing up in the Virgin Islands, something that a future documentary on his life will shed light on. Scott Duncan, Duncan’s older brother, and Rashidi Clenance, a childhood friend of the Hall of Famer, are documenting Duncan’s early life.
Scott Duncan has stated that Tim Duncan’s success can be partially attributed to the island he grew up on. Tim Duncan, who normally avoids media attention, has actually granted 30–40 hours of interviews.
Those closest to Duncan say the circumstances of his enshrinement are near perfect in many respects.
Michael Jordan will give a presentation to the Bryant family in memory of Kobe, and this segment of the ceremony deserves most of the attention.
Blucas gags To paraphrase “Police Academy,” Duncan could “walk up there and give the Bubba Smith speech.” He will express gratitude and then leave. This, however, is very Tim of you.
Attendees include Buford, Blucas, and Babby. On the day of the ceremony, the Spurs host the first of two consecutive games against Monty Williams’ Phoenix Suns. There’s no way, said Buford, that Pop should miss that. And neither should Williams, one of Duncan’s former teammates.
You can count on seeing a lot of Duncan family members, Wake Forest alumni, and Spurs fans.
“It’s like a family reunion,” Blucas said of Duncan’s enshrinement ceremony. When he thinks about the jersey retirements, MVP ceremonies, and even the Wooden Award (from his college days), he sees a chance to bring together people from many different facets of his life. He’d like to get together with everyone for dinner and catch up. Tim places a lot of value on that, and it’s a very sincere part of his character.
“It’s clear that he is humbled by the honor, respects the Hall of Fame as an institution, and is pleased to have been selected. Staying true to who he is and what he’s accomplished, however, is more important to him than fame, public praise, or a slew of awards. Having that much, money, fame, and influence cannot help but alter a person. However, damn it, he’s still the same kid I met when he was 17 and 200 pounds.
No one would have guessed who he became if they hadn’t seen him at 6 feet, 11 inches tall.
Now, Duncan has arrived at the Mohegan Sun Casino for the final time. Intended for those who are unaware.
According to Babby, “he never took in too much of his own air.” With Kobe’s untimely death and Michael’s presentation, Tim won’t be the center of attention, and he doesn’t care. Even if Kobe were still playing, Tim still would get most of the credit, and that sums up his career and personality perfectly.
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For lisbdnet.com, Michael C. Wright is a senior writer. Just shoot him an email.herelocate his old recordshere and go where he leadsTwitter.
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