We saw moving speeches from everyone, including Kevin Garnett and Vanessa Bryant, who honored her late husband, Kobe Bryant. Another star honored in Springfield was Tim Duncan. During his speech, he shared a particularly emotional moment with his trainer and longtime friend, Gregg Popovich.
Duncan’s full message to Popovich:
“He’s going to get mad at me if I talk to him.” Sorry Pop… Coach Pop: The standard you set. You came after being drafted. You came to my island, you sat down with my friends, my family, you I spoke with my father. I thought it was normal. It’s not. You are an exceptional person. Thank you for teaching me basketball, but even beyond that, teaching me that it’s not just about basketball. It’s about what’s going on in the world, it’s about your family. Just, thank you for everything. ”
The No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan spent 19 seasons with the Spurs and Popovich was there for everyone. Together, they formed one of the league’s all-time dynasties, winning five titles together – 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014 – in three decades.
Along the way, Duncan has won Rookie of the Year, three MVPs, three Final MVPs and has made 15 All-Star Games, 15 All-NBA appearances and 15 All-Defense appearances. He was not only one of the best players of his generation, but one of the best players of all time.
At the end of his playing days, Duncan even joined Spurs’ coaching staff for a season to work with Popovich, a testament to their relationship. So it was no surprise that Popovich skipped Spurs’ game against Suns on Saturday to attend Duncan’s ceremony.