When you talk about San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, you automatically think of the greatest power forward to ever play the game. You think of the guy who has never been about the spotlight, never been the flashiest player, and is even sometimes regarded as “boring.”
Duncan is called the selfless superstar who will think “team” before “individual” in all cases on the basketball court. He’s a player who has never had issues with his coach, he’s a player who teammates have raved about over the years.
Well, add another intangible to Duncan’s long list of quality characteristics.
On Saturday, I spoke with Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert after his team was defeated by the Spurs about what it was like to train with Duncan during the NBA lockout, Hibbert’s responses were nothing short of extraordinary regarding the character that Duncan possess.
“He’s a great friend, I text him all the time, ask him for scouting reports.”
“I texted him yesterday, how do I guard him,” said Hibbert, “he said go for the pump fake.”
“I try to learn from him, he tried to teach me to work outside of the box, turn and face and do some more stuff,” Hibbert said of his time training with Duncan. “It’s out of my comfort zone so he’s a good influence and I was really happy to work with him.”
Hibbert said that the mentor relationship he has begun with Duncan would continue in the future.
“I’m going to continue to work with him. We talk probably once every two weeks, a lot of vets in this league I know are straight assholes.” Hibbert interestingly said, “They don’t want to talk to a young guy, Tim took the time out of his day to invite me to San Antonio to workout with him, and have dinner with him and his family, and a couple of the other guys, so he treated me like I was one of his own teammates during the summer.”
Hibbert said that when he faces Duncan on the court, it’s still as competitive as ever.
“We’re going to go head-to-head and I’m going to continue to talk to him and learn whatever I can from him.”
Though Duncan isn’t the flashiest NBA player, Hibbert saids he uses Duncan as the model of what a quality big man should look like.
“I watch how he moves, and how he doesn’t have to fight to get position, everything comes really smooth and natural for him. I always watch film on him, that’s one of the people I always want to get my game like. He’s got a real smooth game.”
Having Duncan as a mentor has paid off tremendously for Hibbert and the Pacers, as Hibbert was selected to the Eastern conference All-Star team for the first time in his career in February, and he has the Pacers as a contender in the Eastern conference.
Duncan meanwhile, has the Spurs on a seven game winning streak and in second place in the Western conference; Hibbert is doing the right thing in following the ways of the “Big Fundamental.”