After a long delay due to COVID-19, the class was finally inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame by 2020 on Saturday night. This was a particularly memorable class where legends from the NBA, WNBA and college basketball earned their place among basketball immortals.
We saw emotional speeches from everyone, including Kevin Garnett and Vanessa Bryant, honoring her late husband, Kobe Bryant. Another star honored in Springfield was Tim Duncan. During his speech, he shared a particularly heartfelt moment with his longtime coach and friend, Gregg Popovich.
Duncan’s full message to Popovich:
“He gets mad at me if I talk about him. Sorry Pop … Coach Pop: The standard you set. You showed up after I was pulled. You came to my island, you sat with my friends, my family, you talked to my dad.I thought it was normal.It’s not.You are an extraordinary person.Thank you for teaching me about basketball, but even to teach me that it’s not just about basketball. It’s about what’s going on in the world, it’s about your family. Just thank you for everything. “
Nr. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan spent 19 seasons with the Spurs, and Popovich was there for them all. Together, they formed one of the league’s all-time dynasties and won five titles together – 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014 – for three decades.
Along the way, Duncan won Rookie of the Year, three MVPs, three MVPs in the Finals, making 15 All-Star Games, 15 All-NBA Percentages and 15 All-Defense Percentages. He was not only one of the best players of his generation, but one of the best players ever.
When his playing days were over, Duncan even joined the Spurs’ coaching staff for a season to work with Popovich, a testament to their relationship. It was therefore not surprising that Popovich skipped Spurs’ match against the Suns on Saturday to be at Duncan’s ceremony.