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Spurs prepare for first season without Duncan since 1997

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San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Spurs are officially back, preparing for the upcoming season with more new faces than ever and without the stone face of the longest-tenured Spur of all-time in Tim Duncan.

While Gregg Popovich said that Tim will be around, as coach of whatever he feels like, it will still be “quite strange” to be without Duncan as Manu Ginobili said before the Argentine slipped and said it will be hard to get used to, “especially for Tim, Tony and...”, stopping after he realized that his reflex was to say Tim, Tony and I, which brought laughs all around.

It will indeed be hard to get used to, as one would expect when a franchise player leaves, but what is interesting is that it’s not Tim’s on-court play that the people who know him best say they’ll miss the most.

Said the Spurs’ young leader and new face of the franchise, Kawhi Leonard,

We don’t know what we’re going to miss on the floor...but now just knowing that he’s not here, his personality is not here, jokes he makes in practice. That’s what I’m missing right now.

And the teammate that spent the longest time playing with Tim, Tony Parker, on the Spurs mentality.

That was the best thing about Timmy when I first came in, showing all of us how to do it...I believe in veterans showing how to do it the right way.

The other half of the league’s greatest love affair, Gregg Popovich, has said many times that it’s Tim’s cleverness, humility and intelligence, the things that people outside the organization don’t get to see, that were the most special. Tim was a generational player and he certainly made the game itself easier for those who were lucky enough to share the court with with the big man. But Tim the teammate off the court was something that went beyond being a generational talent, it’s something that was inherent to Tim as a human being. Said Pop,

He’s been the best teammate that anyone could ever imagine. All Tim Duncan has to do is raise his one of those arms, right or left, and Tim puts it on their shoulder and it’s a warmth and a comfort that they feel that allows them to become the best possible player they can be. And we’ve had a lot of guys come through here and be successful and go on other places and it’s because Tim created that environment for whoever came through here to be able to develop and create livings for their families. And we’re all grateful to him.

While Tim didn’t walk into the ocean and start swimming toward St. Croix never to be seen or heard from again, which somehow seemed like a real possibility, it is still going to be a huge adjustment for the team and fans alike to figure out life post-Duncan. Even with the comfort of knowing that the legend will be around the team in some capacity.