Tim Duncan, grumpier with age
The wave of milestones keep rolling in, and so far as Tim Duncan is concerned, heâ€™d rather they not be. In the San Antonio Spurs 95-78 victory over the Portland Trailblazers the Spurs longtime franchise player played his 1,000th game and took sole possession of 29th place on the NBA all-time scoring list, surpassing Walt Bellamy.
If Duncan had his way heâ€™d rather not have just accomplished either, let alone be reminded.
â€œI was not aware, I would rather not be told that,â€ Duncan said after the game. â€œIt just means Iâ€™ve been playing for a long time and am getting really, really old. I wish Iâ€™d only played 10 games and had 1,000 more ahead of me.â€
Getting old is never fun. Teammates get a little bolder in taking shots at you, like when reserve big man Matt Bonner laughed about his beloved New England Patriots blowing out Duncanâ€™s Chicago Bears while the game played in the locker room television.
â€œWhen my NFL team is beating his NFL team that bad,â€ Bonner joked, â€œhe doesnâ€™t have a leg to stand on.â€
And at a certain age mentioning â€œDuncanâ€ and â€œnot having a leg to stand onâ€ in the same sentence becomes a fearful thought in any context. But if you can roll with the punches, eventually there are some perks with advancing in age.
For one, everyone eventually stops trying to correct you, chalking up any stubbornness or slightly deviant behavior to being older and set in your ways.
For example, with the San Antonio Spurs cruising on their way to another blowout victory and a Duncan-less fourth quarter, Duncan took it upon himself to drift on towards the scorerâ€™s table and reinsert himself into the game.
â€œHe put himself in, he ignored me. I told him to sit and he said, â€˜to hell with you, Iâ€™m playingâ€™,â€ said San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. â€œHeâ€™s been hard to coach for a long time and itâ€™s finally starting to slip out bit by bit.â€
Between sarcastically rooting for Devin Hester falling down in the open field (the Bears still had a chance Duncan quipped), and talking about the fourth quarter, Duncan warned (in jest, obviously) it was a moment that will only repeat itself in the near future.
â€œOh, Iâ€™m very hard to coach, very hard,â€ Duncan reiterated. â€œAnd itâ€™s going to get tougher. As the minutes continue to drop and Iâ€™m not in the fourth quarter Iâ€™m going to become unbearable on the bench and pretty much annoy him to the point that he has to put me in. That is my goal.â€
But even at 1,000 games in, Duncan is still no grouch when measured up to his head coach, who views holding a Blazers team to 78 points as â€œ70-something reasons to complainâ€. Fortunately, Duncan is still up to the task of butting heads.
â€œI think his philosophy this year is to try to not play me in the fourth quarter at all, whether weâ€™re winning or losing,â€ Duncan said. â€œI think he thinks our team is better off without me out there. I just try to disprove him at some point.â€