1. Old, Boring and Surprising
Tim Duncan is one of the greatest players to compete in the game of basketball over the last 20 years. He is also undoubtedly the most boring. And currently one of the oldest. And he has one of the most surprising senses of humor. Confused? Curious? Your intrepid On Fire correspondent has been doing some investigative reporting (i.e. killing time on Deadspin). Read on.
Duncan is a little past his prime, to say the least. Born in 1976, he was the number one pick in the 1997 draft. As such, he has been in the league for 15 years. Just as to turn dog years into human years one multiplies by seven, to turn NBA years into normal-person years one multiplies by 2.69. Doing the math, Duncan has effectively been in the league for 40.35 years! In other words, a really freaking long time.
This is a fact that scorekeepers around the league recognize, as a quick glance at the box score from March 25’s Spurs-76ers game (we at On Fire like to keep things timely and topical) shows that Duncan did not play in that game.
The box score notes who played and who did not and for those that did not, it typically gives a reason why (e.g. coach’s decision or left mid-foot sprain). For those who are keeping track, your On Fire correspondent used both i.e. and e.g. in this column and used each of them correctly, no mean feat in and of itself.
And the NBA scorekeepers do not beat around the bush. In the notes for why Duncan took a game off the explanation was very simple: “DND – OLD.” Despite extensive research, your On Fire correspondent was unable to determine why DND denotes not playing, since it seems that the second D should be a P, but that is beside the point. What is this point, our loyal readers may ask? That NBA scorekeepers call them like they see them, and Tim Duncan is really old.
2. Mr. Fundamentals
But even though he is old, he has not lost his gifts. Even though he may have lost a step or two on the fast break, an inch or two on his vertical and that extra oomph in his muscles, his technique is still impeccable. Nowhere can this be better illustrated than in a recent confrontation he had with a fan.
Doing what a guy has got to do every once in a while, Duncan made a quick stop at a pharmacy to restock on the basics – chips, soda and the like. A fan spies him from her car in the parking lot and does what anyone would naturally do.
That is, she does not go up and shake his hand or ask for an autograph, but stay inside of her car and whips out her camera phone and starts rolling video, obtaining several seconds of prime footage of Duncan in his flip flops and very big shorts walking over to his very nice car.
Duncan does not react. You would think that he did not even notice the outrageous invasion of his privacy that was occurring. In the mind of your reasonable On Fire correspondent, a man’s walk from the pharmacy to his car is like his castle – a thing which must be protected at all costs. Duncan would have been well-justified charging the lady, wresting the camera from her hands and teaching her never to mess with a big black man ever again.
But he does not. He remains cool, calm and collected. He starts his car and adjusts himself in his seat. Then he flips the smoothest, most precise, most technically-correct bird your On Fire correspondent has ever seen.
His method is impeccable. It is as if he spent hours in the mirror practicing the motion, making sure that he could do it just right. Working on his fundamentals – the arm raise, the finger extension.
And the fact that he even saw the women taping him from inside of her car! It’s that great court vision, always watching the peripherals.
This incident is once again proof that if Duncan does something, he does it to the best of his ability. That is to say, better than any anyone else.
3. He Is Funny Too
Once final anecdote about Duncan before we go: after the 2004-05 NBA Finals, which the Spurs won, Brent Barry and Duncan were waiting in line for David Stern to hand them their Championship rings when Duncan offered Barry $100 to kiss Stern. He did on the cheek.
According to Barry, Stern and his grandma have the same skin. We were unable to confirm whether or not Duncan ever paid.