Yesterday I heard the sad news that one of my heroes is retiring. Tim Duncan played for 19 years with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, and at the age of 40, he’s decided the time has come to hang up his size 16 sneakers. Here are some reasons Tim’s my favorite:
• He and I finished college in the same year- 1997. I like pulling for a guy who is my age and still getting the job done.
• He’s an excellent player. Some have called him the greatest power forward of all time, (15 time all-star and a 2 time league MVP), but he does it in a quiet and unassuming manner. I’m aware that some of you may not have even heard of Tim Duncan!
• He stayed in the same place for 19 years. In basketball the trend these days is to play for whichever team can pay you the most money or in whatever city can give you the most exposure (see LeBron James). Tim could have left the Spurs for a bigger paycheck or gone to a larger market where he’d have more opportunities for endorsement deals. He stayed put.
• Tim is the centerpiece of the Spurs approach to basketball: unselfish teamwork. When the norm is for a couple of superstars to hog the ball, the Spurs stand out. Their teamwork is why I watch them play- and why the Spurs won 5 NBA championships with Tim. It is why he’s quietly retiring as opposed to making a big deal about it (see Kobe Bryant).
• When Tim came into the league, he was an immediate superstar, but a humble one. He looked to another teammate, David Robinson, to mentor him in life and in the game. That teachable attitude paid off. As an older player, Tim looked for ways to mentor young teammates in the same way David Robinson mentored him.
• Tim is amazing at the basics. They call him “The Big Fundamental” because he does all the little things right. Rebounding. Defense. Bankshots. Passing. For 19 years, he was rarely flashy- just amazingly consistent.
• He’s generous. Basketball has made Tim a wealthy man, and he’s sharing that blessing with the communities that have been so good to him: The Virgin Islands (where he was born), Winston Salem, NC (where he went to Wake Forest), and San Antonio.
He’s my hero, and I want to be like Tim.
Let the one who has ears hear.