On Monday, the San Antonio Spurs announced two new assistant coaches would be joining Gregg Popovich’s staff to fill vacancies left by Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina. Those two new assistant coaches: Will Hardy, who has climbed the ranks within the organization, and Tim Duncan — yes, that Tim Duncan.
How wholesome and beautiful is Duncan joining Pop’s bench in San Antonio? Let us count the ways, starting from the bottom.
11. The spectre of Tim Duncan, future NBA head coach
Is Duncan doing this only to be around Popovich and the Spurs more, or does he have aspirations to become an NBA head coach (maybe of the Spurs when Pop retires in three years or so)? Are we prepared for Duncan arguing calls from the bench, for Duncan giving the in-game interviews? I don’t think we’re prepared for that.
10. The Spurs staff could win the BIG 3 title
I don’t know anything about Will Hardy’s game. But Tim Duncan and Becky Hammon are two-thirds of a killer 3-on-3 squad. What a pick-and-roll duo.
9. Picture Tim Duncan keeping Spurs players from running onto the court during an altercation
One of the most important jobs assistant coaches have during games is keeping players from running onto the court during altercations. (Tim Duncan knows this intimately well, he may owe one of his five rings to the Suns failing to keep their players on the bench when Bob Horry hip checked Steve Nash!) I’m trying to imagine Duncan jumping up to hold back, like, Lonnie Walker. Glorious.
8. DeMar DeRozan bank shots!
”Alright guys, today’s drill is 15-foot bank shots.” “Again?”
7. The Spurs still have guys who played with Duncan
These players who played with Tim are going to bust him so bad. And vice versa. To be a bat on the wall.
6. More Tim Duncan!
There has been a painful lack of Tim Duncan in our lives since his retirement a few years ago. No longer! Now we know we can just put on the Spurs on League Pass and get a dose of Big Fun.
5. Tim Duncan has to wear a suit, like, every day
Bwahahaha no more jorts with long-sleeve tropical print button-downs, my man. (In reality, Duncan became a much more snappy dresser in his later years in the league. I miss island casual Tim, to be honest.)
4. Best assistant coach ever
We ran through the ranks and determined that there has never been a better NBA player than Tim Duncan serve as an assistant coach. Guys like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson went straight into head coaching jobs when they took the bench. Bill Russell was a player-coach. No. 2 on this list might be, like, Patrick Ewing? Think about it: in a league where any number of players have gone straight into head coaching jobs fresh out of the league, one of the five best players ever is taking an assistant coach job. It’s wild.
3. How the Spurs describe Duncan’s path in the press release
The top three most wonderful things about Duncan becoming an assistant coach are all from the Spurs’ master-class press release announcing it. (That’s right: this wasn’t leaked, the Spurs and Duncan got to announce it on their own terms. Spurs gonna Spur.)
First, here’s how Duncan is described in the release: “Duncan, a 1997 Wake Forest graduate, played 19 seasons with the Spurs before retiring in the summer of 2016.”
That’s it! Nothing about the five rings, the two NBA MVPs, the three Finals MVPs, the 15 All-Star nods, the 13-year streak on the All-NBA and All-Defense teams. In a league where every achievement is screamed from the rooftops, this is just hilarious.
2. The Spurs’ press release leads with Hardy
Tim didn’t even get his own press release: the Spurs’ press release -- the headline, the release itself, the tweet promoting it -- all lead with Will Hardy. What a come-up for Will Hardy! Bonus wonderful thing: the URL path for the press release on the Spurs’ website is “spurs-announce-assistant-coach-updates.”
1. Pop’s quote about Duncan in the press release
And finally, here’s Popovich’s quote about Duncan in the press release: “It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor.” Pure, unadulterated Pop. I love it.
Three cheers to the Spurs for a shower of sunlight in dark times.
While the NBA has turned into a 12-month sport, we do have about a month here where less is happening and it’s hard to put together a robust newsletter five times a week. So for the next month or so, Good Morning It’s Basketball will be a twice-a-week affair. And, in fact, next week it will take a full break. Expect an issue Thursday and then again on August 6.
If something big happens, you can certainly expect a special edition or two. Thanks for subscribing.
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Be excellent to each other.