Teary Gregg Popovich: ‘I Would Not Be Standing Here If It Wasn’t for Tim Duncan’

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty)

True to his patented attention-averse form, Tim Duncan didn't even attend his retirement news conference at the San Antonio Spurs' practice facility on Tuesday.

Untrue to the team's head coach's rather … brief form, at least with media members, Gregg Popovich was on hand and seemed never to run out of things to say about the man that helped lead him and the franchise to five championships in his 19 seasons.

Pop told reporters that he has the big man out of Wake Forest to thank for his success as a head coach.

"It's not a show of humility in any sense or form. People who grew up with me know me," Popovich said. "I would not be standing here if it wasn't for Tim Duncan. I'd be in the Budweiser league someplace in America, fat and still trying to play basketball or coach basketball. But he's why I'm standing. He's made livings for hundreds of us, staff and coaches, over the years and never said a word, just came to work every day. Came early, stayed late, was there for every single person, from the top of the roster to the bottom of the roster, because that's who he was, in all those respects."

The head coach, who broke into tears several times, said that Duncan will be able to dictate how involved in the organization Duncan will be post-retirement, and that he thinks the future Hall of Famer is "too smart" to get into coaching.

"I don't think we're going to see Timmy going up and down the sidelines much," Popovich said. "But I have a notion he will at least listen to being involved, somehow or other, maybe even on a part-time basis. I'm certainly going to hit with everything I have to keep him around here as long as I possibly can because he means that much to everyone in the organization."

The upcoming season will be the first time Popovich starts the year without his star player. He took over coaching duties with the Spurs in the middle of the 1996-97 season, and San Antonio drafted Duncan the following summer.

To Duncan's reserved nature, Popovich asserted that it's what made him unique.

"You don't see Timmy beating his chest as if he was the first human being to dunk the basketball, as a lot of people do these days. He's not pointing to the sky. He's not glamming to the cameras. He just plays, and we've seen it for so long it's become almost mundane. But it's so special that it has to be remembered."