Tim Duncan is the silent superstar.
Silently, he’s led the San Antonio Spurs to four NBA championships. Silently, he’s been named the NBA Finals MVP three times. Silently, he’s a 13-time all-star, a former NBA Rookie of the Year and a two-time regular season MVP.
Countless awards and accomplishments accumulate for the 34-year-old veteran. There’s no doubt he’s heading to the Hall of Fame and you can certainly bet San Antonio will retire his number.
And all of this has occurred, and will continue to occur, without a sound.
Duncan is not like his fellow NBA all-stars. In a league full of ego, “bling” and glamour, he’s none of the above. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade live out loud. But Duncan lives in silence.
There’s a reason why children will more often run around in Bryant and James jerseys than Duncan ones; because kids love cool. They learn about cool from the source of cool: the television. And what’s on TV? Highlights.
There’s Kobe showing his amazing skill, matched only by his Hollywood arrogance. That’s cool.
There’s LeBron tossing powder in the air while talking to Jay-Z. He’s making monster dunks and acting up for the camera. That’s cool.
There’s Tim Duncan scoring a generic basket, then applauding his teammates. That’s not cool.
But “not cool” is a good thing.
Duncan is the ideal role model for aspiring basketball players. He plays in the NBA because he wants to win. He doesn’t care about who’s wearing his jersey or how many times he shows up on the SportsCenter “Plays of the Day.” Duncan doesn’t mind passing the ball. He just wants to win.
More importantly, Duncan understands the consequences of his actions. He realizes there are many individuals who helped him on his road to success.
So he gives back.
Duncan is incredibly charitable. His own charity, the Tim Duncan Foundation, has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research and promotes healthy habits for youths. Yes, Bryant and James do charitable work as well, but how often is it overshadowed by their antics on and off the court? That’s not the case with Duncan.
The most unique aspect of Duncan’s character is his loyalty. In 2011, an athlete playing for the same club his entire career is rare. But here’s Duncan wearing the Spurs’ black, silver and white since 1997. Of course, one could argue Bryant is just as loyal. But that tenure is only possible thanks to the Lakers’ deep pockets.
Even if the Lakers or New York Knicks backed several trucks each full of money and dumped it onto his front lawn, it’s highly likely that Duncan would stay and politely ask them to clean up the mess and drive home. Why would he want to leave San Antonio? Look at all the success the team has had. A large portion of their ability to stay competitive for the last decade is because of Duncan. It shows that hard work and skill – not just money – brings victory.
On his website, Slamduncan.com, Duncan mentions a nursery rhyme his late mother would say to him and his siblings. It truly captures Duncan personality, work ethic and silent persona amongst the NBA’s top players. It’s his personal motto, and one that all athletes and people in general should aim towards:
“Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest, until your Good is Better, and your Better is your Best.”