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21 SHADES OF GRAY
CHRIS BALLARD
May 21, 2012
TIM DUNCAN is the most successful player of his generation, maybe even its best, the foundation of yet another Spurs team built to win it all. So why haven't you fallen for him? The reasons aren't all black-and-white
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May 21, 2012

21 Shades Of Gray

TIM DUNCAN is the most successful player of his generation, maybe even its best, the foundation of yet another Spurs team built to win it all. So why haven't you fallen for him? The reasons aren't all black-and-white

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21 The Last Word

The 20 minutes Duncan proposed have become 40, and he is still talking. He's comfortable here in his hotel room, having jacked up the heat. ("An island thing," he says.) He's thoughtful, possessed of a dry wit—Duncan is a big giggler—and gracious. It's a side his teammates are all familiar with.

The question has to be asked: Why not let the public see this side of you? "With the media, I just keep it basic, surface, to the point," he says. "You're here to talk about basketball. I'll give you what you want, and let's go home. I don't really care about anyone getting to know me, or getting into my life or anything else like that."

This is understandable, even admirable in a way. After all, how many of us would want total strangers knowing intimate details of our lives? Yet when Duncan's gone, will we suddenly realize how much we miss him? Will we realize how singular his career has been? Will we begin to appreciate him not just for all that he was but also for all that he was not?

Then again, maybe it's not too late to start. He's asked about it. Doesn't he care about how he's viewed, how he's remembered?

Duncan thinks for a second, pulls on the sleeve of his silver Spurs sweatshirt. "Why?" he says. "I have no control of that. All I can do is play and try to play well. Winning should be the only thing that matters. I can't manipulate how people see me."

But that's not true at all, he's told.

He considers this, then frowns. "I mean, I guess I could. I could be more accessible and be the darling for everybody. I could open up my life and get more endorsements and be out there and be a fan favorite. But why would that help?"

He pauses for a moment. "Why should it?"

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