Growing up, the annual Midsummer Classic, as it was known, was something I looked forward to with great excitement. I would follow the votes of the fans religiously, then pored over the final 25-man rosters, aware what city would host the game, imagining the players in their respective team uniforms taking the field in the ballpark of that town.
Now the rosters are larger, understandable with more teams, more players are begging off due to injury, some real, some imagined, and the Home Run Derby the night before has become more entertaining than the game itself.
But there I go. This is supposed to be about Tim Duncan.
I got to know him a little when I broadcast Spurs games on TV in the early 2000’s.
This is what I know. Tim Duncan was the ultimate model of a truly great player, who was humble, coachable, a perfect teammate, low-key, a gentleman, and a champion. Five-time champion.
His Coach, Gregg Popovich could berate him in practice and Duncan would accept it. How’s that for the setting an example to the rest of the team.
He took less money so that the Spurs could sign others. His ego was huge when it came to his production on the court, but not as a superstar. He was simply a remarkable human being, and he, of course still remains so.
I mean, an All-Star for 15 of his 19 years? Numbers really don’t tell the story.
I’ve followed the NBA for sixty years. Has there been anyone else like him with the whole package?
I don’t think so.