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You Can’t Tell Me What To Do You’re Not My Grandbaby Shirt, hoodie
Before Duncan ever played a game in the NBA, his former agent, Lon Babby — who later worked with the Phoenix Suns as a front office executive — said he quickly learned a valuable lesson from the power forward.
Prior to the start of Duncan’s rookie season, he and Babby rode in the back of a car on the way to a Schick commercial shoot that would feature the No. 1 draft pick playing one-on-one in a backyard with Spurs’ veteran star David Robinson. The premise of the commercial centered on the veteran teaching the rookie a lesson. But on the way to the shoot, an issue arose with the script about one of Robinson’s lines.
“We’re talking about it, and I said, ‘Listen, Tim, my job is to represent you. So, I can’t really be worried about David’s point of view on this,’ ” said Babby, who also represented Hall of Fame inductee Tamika Catchings. “He turned to me and said, ‘Well, you might not have to worry about it, but I do because I’m gonna be his teammate. I’m coming in, and he’s been the star of this team. I need to be sensitive to his feelings.’
“I remember turning to him and saying, ‘Well, listen. I’m 40. You’re 22. And you’re teaching me lessons about teamwork and leadership.’ He was just always willing to sublimate his own ego for the betterment of his teammates.”
Duncan conducted himself similarly with the franchise over the years when it came to transactions. Buford and Popovich always made it a point to involve the club’s star player in any discussions about potential moves that needed to be made. Buford even admitted that “the kiss of death was to become good friends with Tim because I think we traded everyone that Timmy was good friends with. It started with Cory Alexander, then (Phoenix Suns coach) Monty (Williams), then Malik (Rose), Antonio Daniels.”
Duncan never tried to convince the brass to keep his friends. In fact, it reached the point where Popovich and Duncan agreed that when it came to discussions about potentially moving close friends, the team wouldn’t even approach the power forward for his opinion.