Appreciating Tim Duncan, the NBA’s Understated Superstar

In a league full of fashion plates and showboaters, the Spurs’ power forward does it his own way.

If you’ve ever subjected yourself to the unwatchable nightmare that is a basketball game’s pre-game show, then you’ve likely seen those gratuitous shots of players walking into an arena in street clothes. They’re usually staring down at their feet and wearing headphones. It makes for riveting TV. It also gives us a brief glimpse at what the world’s top athletes look like when they’re not dressed like 14-year-olds in gym class. Young guys like Russell Westbrook and Paul George show they read the The Sartorialist. Veterans like Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce show they’re businessmen. And Tim Duncan, the sixth oldest player in the NBA, shows that outside of being the greatest power forward to ever play the game, he’s a regular guy.

That’s what makes The Big Fundamental so easy to love. Modest nicknames like that help, too. Duncan, whose Spurs begin their quest for revenge against the Heat tomorrow night, is all substance and no style. Seriously, he has terrible style. His oversized shirts and baggy pants make him look like an awkward fifth grader, not a two-time NBA MVP who’s earned $225 million in his career. The key to pulling all of this off? Not caring. And winning. A lot.

Duncan’s teammate Danny Green has described the veteran’s fashion as “island style,” which is a nice way of saying he doesn’t give a shit. A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Duncan doesn’t give a shit with the best of them. And not just with fashion. Status is of no concern to Duncan. This is a guy who not only plays Dungeons & Dragons and collects swords, but one who’s publicly admitted it. In the image-conscious world of the NBA, he’s a refreshing reminder that how cool you are has nothing to do with how ice cold you can be on the court.

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