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Tim Duncan gets emotional during retirement speech - Dec 19, 2016


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DAVID EDOLE
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Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan (211-F/C-76, college: Wake Forest) took long pauses, choking back tears as he thanked his former coaches and teammates at his retirement ceremony at AT&T Center on Sunday.

'The love and support has been overwhelming,' Duncan said, as a crowd of more than 18,000 fans stood and cheered.

Duncan said he got way more from his teammates than he could have ever given them. And he said Popovich has been much more to him than just a coach.

'You've been like a father to me,' Duncan said to Popovich. 'Thank you.'

Duncan said he won a lot of bets Sunday.

'I didn't wear jeans,' he said. 'I wore a sports coat. I didn't wear a tie. And I spoke for more than 30 seconds.'

Duncan was serenaded with speeches from three of his former teammates, Sean Elliott, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Dave Odom, who coached Duncan at Wake Forest from 1993-97, also gave a speech, as did Popovich.

Duncan helped the Spurs reach the playoffs each of the 19 seasons he was on the team, leading them to five NBA championships.

Popovich said that after the Spurs selected Duncan as the first overall pick in the 1997 draft, he went to Duncan's birthplace, Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to see what the guy was really about.

He joked that he almost died two or three times on his way to Duncan's home because Duncan neglected to tell him that people on the island drive on the other side of the road.

During that trip, Popovich said that he and Duncan lived together on the beach for a few days just swimming and talking.

'From that moment I knew that he was a special individual because he basically talked about everything but basketball,' Popovich said.

Popovich called Duncan 'strange.' He said Duncan used to wear his shorts backwards at practices. And said when the team was on the road, he had to drop off carrot cake in front of Duncan's hotel room or else Duncan would be miffed.

'I had to do this for 20 years, carrot cake for 20 years,' Popovich joked. 'David [Robinson] didn't bother me that way. Sean [Elliott] never bothered me that way. But Timmy is special, so he had to have his carrot cake.'

Popovich proceeded to roast Duncan a bit.

'You think that Kawhi Leonard doesn't talk much?' Popovich asked. 'When Timmy first got here, it was like mental telepathy. I'd say something, he'd stare.'

Popovich then took on a more serious tone. He acknowledged that he can be merciless at times, but he said Duncan would never say anything back to him in front of the team. He said Duncan truly allowed him to coach.

'If your superstar can take a little hit every now and then, everybody else can shut the hell up and fall in line,' Popovich said.

He went on to thank Duncan's parents, who have both passed away, for raising such an exemplary man.

'That man right there is exactly the same person now as he was when he walked in the door,' Popovich said.   



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