Happy 40th Birthday to my favorite player and fellow alum, Tim Duncan!
I still remember Thanksgiving Weekend in 1993 when I ducked out of a family gathering in Florida to go check out a skinny, unsung Wake Forest freshman from the Virgin Islands in his college debut in Alaska (when he posted zero points but double-digit rebounds.)
I feel so blessed not only that Tim Duncan represented my alma mater, but also that he has entertained and inspired this fan for more than half of my life.
Ryan Nusbickel, my classmate cousin, author and former cartoonist in this blog space, hits the mark like a patented Timmy bank shot: “We’re at college fraternity parties. We’re watching Duncan. We’re partying, single 20-somethings. We’re watching Duncan. Getting married. Starting families. Watching Duncan. He’s always been there.”
Timmy D.’s basketball accomplishments are well known, including five NBA championships and almost too many player-of-the-year/MVP trophies to count. Did you know though that the “Big Fundamental” is the only player ever to be selected to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams in every one of his first 13 seasons as a pro? Amazing.
Duncan somehow manages to build on even that Mt. Olympus of resumes. He does it with class and integrity. Timmy rises above so many things — hype, greed and all the other ubiquitous pulls from this culture of short-term self-gratification — but the effect isn’t to detract from his relatable-ness. The college player of the year once signed the bar tab of my other classmate cousin. Many years later, he took the time to call a friend and former suitemate’s wife to wish her a happy birthday when her husband was thousands of miles away serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Want a unique story? Read about Duncan’s swimming prowess as a youth and how his attention turned to basketball only after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the one Olympic-sized pool in his hometown of St. Croix.
Want loyalty? Duncan could’ve been the No. 1 draft pick after his sophomore season at Wake, but he stayed in college all four years. And all basketball fans know about his 19-year career in San Antonio…
Want integrity? The classy, old soul, who could never be altered by our greedy, mass-marketed, look-at-me pop society, repeatedly took less money so that the Spurs could remain a competitive team. (Click here for a comparison of Kobe Bryant’s 2016 salary versus Timmy’s).
“Good, better, best: never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best.”
Timmy, you’re better than the rest. THANK YOU and Happy Birthday!