For a pair of NBA players who have made being boring an artform at news conferences and pre-/mid-/post-game interviews, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard have taken small steps in making global icons of themselves in the wake of the 2014 NBA Finals. Venturing outside of the "It was a good game and both teams played hard" quotebook, the Spurs franchise cornerstone and its soon-to-be 23-year-old All-Star-in-training made the rounds with David Letterman on Tuesday night, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan Wednesday morning.
Duncan, in a flagrant violation of the NBA superstar handbook, let it leak early on Monday that he would be returning to the Spurs in 2014, thus depriving the media of 30 seconds of will-he or won't-he before returning to their latest nonstop coverage of soccer players biting each other.
There were no special reports. No conflicting stories from anonymous sources. This wasn't "The Decision" Part 2. Any hopes CBS had of Duncan dropping any sort of bombshell on "The Late Show With David Letterman" were dead on arrival.
Letterman asked Duncan about whether he considered the possibility of retiring after winning championship Number 5, and Tim talked about what tipped the scales in favor of returning to help the Spurs defend the title. He also showed the intelligence, perceptiveness and dry wit that has made him the league's consensus Best Teammate over the course of his career.
On Wednesday, Kawhi Leonard went on "Live! With Kelly and Michael," and basically showed why he's the sort of well-adjusted NBA player any parent would be happy to have their daughter bring home. Characteristically humble and soft-spoken, Leonard answered questions respectfully and thoughtfully while staying true to his introverted nature. His description of the aftermath of the 2013 NBA Finals was almost clinical in its detachment.
Leonard could not be baited when co-host Michael Strahan floated the possibility of LeBron James, who had announced his free agency on Tuesday, possibly maybe kinda sorta joining the Spurs. Any other player coming off an NBA Finals MVP-level performance would say something the lines of "LeBron? Sure. I could use a good backup." Kawhi rolled with a classic understatement.
Of note to Spurs fans: Kawhi turns 23 on Sunday. Celebrate accordingly, and raise your glasses to the Finals MVP. And another one to the Spurs in general.
Fiinally, there's Tony Parker's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel last week, first to discuss his theft of the team's fifth Larry O'Brien trophy.
And then to talk about his passion for comic books, the name of his newborn son, and his favorite vehicle.
Who knows what's changed in the Official San Antonio Handbook for Handling the Media, but it certainly seems like this could be the dawn of a new glasnost where Spurs-Press relations are concerned.