Tim Duncan's going to leave basketball, if not this summer then the next one or the one after that. At some point he'll step away from the game - and very likely onto a spacecraft back to his home planet - but not before he turns back towards us, shrugs deferentially, and makes his hand into the shape of a Vulcan salute. We'll snivel and smile, but we'll also cringe at how corny it is - because Tim Duncan is a total dad, and that's what dads make us do.
Duncan's expansive legacy, one that goes beyond the numbers he's put up over 19 seasons, may take some time to fully appreciate, but among the many voids left behind by Old Man Riverwalk will be a pair of size-XXL jorts that came with being the unappointed - and categorically trill af - patriarch of the league.
The NBA stage is, at best, America's great confluence of sport and culture and, at worst, a pervasive fount for Vines and depictions of crying icons. Unsurprisingly its spotlight gravitates most towards the objects that will catch its gleam, flit and flutter, and reflect it back even brighter - the athletes whose style and swagger exude the elusive sense of cool.
Most of us have some hand in this, guiding it collectively like whatever the Millennial equivalent of a Ouija board may be (I want to say, SurfBoard?). We chase what's cool because it embodies the aspirational nature of sports and entertainment, but it's a concept that's as subjective as it is transient - a schoolyard question with no answer. What comes off as confident or stylish to some may be loud or brash to another; a fire emoji's just a line of code away from being a poo emoji, after all.
Then there are those too damn aloof to regale the crowd. In our normal lives the unstylish, disinterested types are all around us, because everyday people can't usually flex the muscle or money that most star athletes have. In the NBA world, though, restraint is what seems more alien than anything.
It's fitting then that Duncan earned the nickname Mr. Spock in his college years at Wake Forest (all four of them!). Although he pressed for the sexier handle of ‘Merlin', the former seemed to better distil what would be his MO for the next two decades: using sober, rudimentary mechanics to simultaneously overwhelm his opponents and underwhelm casual audiences.
That he's paired his lowkey on-court demeanor with oversized polo shirts and more niche interests than you could fill a four-car garage with is what's made Duncan - a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer - the Dad of the NBA.
On a good day, he appears to share the same tailor as the Babadook, donning a massive suit jacket that extends his towering frame to a profile one could only describe as skulking and frumpy. On a better day he tucks a button-down short-sleeve shirt into a baggy pair of blue jeans, accenting his accoutrement with a single-strap satchel or two-strap JanSport bag. Either one is a look that will get panned the more that the worlds of basketball and fashion reverberate against each other - not that he cares.
That's the thing about dads: it can take years for us to see how woke all their idiosyncrasies really were.
Maybe Duncan is Merlin, subversively guiding the league on its quest from whatever it was to whatever's next, or maybe he's just an alien experiencing it all through cold, detached eyes. Either way, the NBA will likely be a bit cooler when he's gone, and that sucks.