Spurs veteran Tim Duncan headed to All-Star Game
SAN ANTONIO (AP) At 38, Tim Duncan admits a few more days’ rest might be better for him rather than playing in the All-Star Game.
But there is no way he would pass up the chance to razz a former teammate.
The San Antonio Spurs forward will make the 15th All-Star appearance of his 18-year career after being selected as a reserve for the Western Conference. The Feb. 15 game is at Madison Square Garden in New York, which was the site of Duncan’s inaugural All-Star appearance in 1998.
”It’s an honor to be there, I’m happy to go,” Duncan said. ”Would I have loved a couple of days off? Maybe, but it is what it is. It will be fun. My kids will love the experience and they will enjoy it.”
Perhaps not as much as Duncan, though.
Duncan is stoic on the floor and in dealing with the media, but he is extremely mischievous behind the scenes. He loves playing practical jokes on teammates and teasing them, comparing his wicked sense of humor to that of Will Hunting in ”Good Will Hunting.”
Get ready for that, Steve Kerr. Kerr is coaching the West after leading Golden State to the league’s best record in his first season with the Warriors. Kerr and Duncan were teammates in San Antonio for four seasons, winning NBA championships in 1999 and 2003.
”That’s the best part,” Duncan said, smiling. ”I’m just going to give him all kinds of (ribbing) the entire time, just make his life hell the entire game, in every huddle, in every play. I’m going to work him the whole time.”
If dealing with Duncan’s shenanigans isn’t enough for Kerr, there is also the ominous threat of displeasing his mentor, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
Popovich was asked if he requested Kerr limit Duncan’s minutes.
”If he plays him at all, I’m never speaking to him again,” Popovich said with a chuckle.
The caution is understandable. The Spurs have struggled to find the consistency they showed last June in steamrolling the Miami Heat in five games to win their fifth NBA title. They have been plagued by injuries to key players including Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard. The one player to escape injury thus far is also its oldest.
”I’ve been blessed, I’ve been healthy,” Duncan said. ”The last couple of years I’ve made it through an entire season healthy. My role has changed over the years. I’m just trying to be a positive on the floor that’s all I want to be and be consistent at what I have to do for the team as possible.”
Duncan is averaging 14.7 points and 10.1 rebounds and has 22 double-doubles in 42 games. He is also averaging 30.3 minutes, third most on the team.
”He’s having a good year,” Popovich said. ”We’ve been a little up and down, but he’s been really steady. He’s carried us to this point with his consistency, which is what’s really impressive. I’m really thankful to the coaches for seeing that and putting him on (the All-Star team).”
After Thursday’s games, San Antonio was just 2 1/2 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for third place in the West. The Spurs have won three straight and eight of 11 and have three straight home games before their annual nearly monthlong rodeo road trip.
”It’s a good stretch, a really good stretch,” Duncan said. ”Kind of needed right now. We’ve had kind of grind this first half of the season. I know a lot of the guys are looking forward to it, but we’re not there yet and we’re not looking forward to that just yet. We’ve got these games to finish out before the break and we’ll do just that.”