I don’t know the dude who baptized Tim Duncan as the "Big Fundamental" but I think we can consider this as one of the most candid nickname in the NBA. Although, I still prefer "GOAT PUFF" (thanks to the guys from Pounding The Rock).
Timmy has never been a showboat and his stoic demeanor has inspired a parody Twitter account and dedicated satirical articles at The Onion. Yeah, right! People joke around about his efficiency as being bland, but basketball purists would argue that he’s one of the greatest NBA power forward of all time.
But beyond all these fascinating facts, I think the man deserves to be called the "NBA’s Big Socrates". Here, let me lay down several similarities between him and the great Athenian philosopher.
A Humble Man
"That there are universal standards I know; what they are in detail, I don't know; I seek."
He can be considered as a late bloomer (in terms of his basketball skills) since he started out as a swimmer. He left his promising swimming career and switched to basketball only in ninth grade after a hurricane destroyed the only Olympic-sized pool on his home of U.S. Virgin Islands. He soon became a standout in college playing for the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons. He finished his degree in Philosophy before entering the 1997 NBA Draft as the top pick. He amassed numerous awards during his collegiate and professional career.
4 NBA Championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007)
3 NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005)
2 NBA Most Valuable Player (2002–2003)
14 NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2011, 2013)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1998)
10 All-NBA First Team (1998–2005, 2007, 2013)
3 All-NBA Second Team (2006, 2008–2009)
All-NBA Third Team (2010)
8 All-Defensive First Team (1999–2003, 2005, 2007–2008)
6 All-Defensive Second Team (1998, 2004, 2006, 2009–2010, 2013)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (1998)
NBA Shooting Stars champion (2008)
USBWA College Player of the Year (1997)
Naismith College Player of the Year (1997)
John Wooden Award (1997)
Adolph Rupp Trophy (1997)
Sporting News Player of the Year (1997)
NABC Player of the Year (1997)
2 ACC Player of the Year (1996–1997)
3 NABC Defensive Player of the Year (1995–1997)
2 NCAA All-American First Team (1996–1997)
The best thing about this list is he’s not yet done. Having all these accolades, Duncan remained quiet and modest. In fact, here’s the closest thing he's come to being controversial.
A Great Leader
"The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear."
Even though there is no evidence proving Socrates’ leadership skills, his views on leadership have affected how leaders manage today. Timmy is the living proof that fits the mold that Socrates wants to embody. He became the Spurs’ de facto leader after David Robinson handed the responsibility to him upon retirement.
Did you see Duncan tap Manu’s nape and console the latter after a bone-headed play he made during game 1 against the Warriors in the second round series? This only shows responsible leadership which creates a blame-free environment that encourages its members to contribute without compromising performance standards and discipline.
How about games two and three of the Western Conference Finals wherein he rescued the Spurs in the overtime? In this case, a good leader learns from their successes and failures, and recovers from setbacks quickly, fully and responsibly.
Lastly, a good leader leads by example. Notice how he have pushed himself through 80 regular-season games with plantar fasciitis; working out with the young guns every summer despite the sweltering heat; been the perfect teammate on and off the court; and cared for his community.
Against the Norm
"Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down."
Let’s hop on the DeLorean and go back to 400 B.C. and see how Socrates (Timmy) and the sophists (other NBA superstars) differ.
Sophists ask people money for their efforts and claimed that their principles would make people wiser. Socrates, on the contrary, made no money for his efforts, and he did not claim he was making anyone wiser. All NBA players, specifically the superstars, are entitled with ginormous salaries. However, Timmy has sacrificed and took a huge pay cut to help his team stay competitive.
Sophists were not loyal to any single city. Socrates, on the other hand, always remained loyal to Athens. Drafted by the Spurs in 1997 as the no. 1 pick, Timmy will live and die as a Spur.
Sophists emphasized the person who is speaking, rather than what can be said about a topic. So, while Socrates would wonder what can be said about justice, holiness, or wisdom, the sophists would take their own authority (or the authority of a great poet) over the words of a common man like Socrates. The sophists genuinely believed they were among the wisest and that they were able to teach others to be wise as well. Tim Duncan is the epitome of NBA anti-superstar. The Lebrons, Wades, Kobes and Carmelos of the NBA realm are dependent on flash and excitement while shunning away of the quiet, humble and fundamental play of basketball.
As of this writing, the Spurs have clinched the Western Conference and will be facing the Miami Heat at the 2013 NBA Finals. Win or lose, dreary and all, I’d still wager on NBA’s Big Socrates. And with that, I’ll leave you with some wise words from Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest).
"I remember one time Kevin Garnett was mushing him, and shoving him in the face; and Tim Duncan didn't do anything, he didn't react. He just kicked Kevin Garnett's a--, and won the damn championship. You know what I'm sayin'? That's gangsta. Everybody can show emotion, dunk on somebody, scream and be real cocky; but Tim Duncan is a ... he's a pimp."