Gregg Popovich Tim Duncan.

Gregg Popovich salutes retired forward Tim Duncan after 19 years together in San Antonio

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave his long-time forward, Tim Duncan, a fitting send off yesterday as he waved goodbye to an all-time great.

In true Timmy D fashion, the 19-year stalwart shied away from the glitz and the glamour and didn't even attend the gathering.

That's never been the way Duncan goes about his business and it never will be. However, that doesn't detract from the fact that the two-time MVP is one of the greatest forwards to ever set foot on the hardwood.

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Popovich - his mentor through his entire career - spoke glowingly about Duncan's impact on the San Antonio Spurs as an organisation.

"It's not a show of humility in any sense or form," Popovich insisted. "People who grew up with me know me. I would not be standing here if it wasn't for Tim Duncan. I'd be in the Budweiser League someplace in America, fat and still trying to play basketball or coach basketball. But he's why I'm standing.

"He's made livings for hundreds of us, staff and coaches, over the years, and never said a word. Just came to work every day. Came early. Stayed late. Was there for every single person, from the top of the roster to the bottom of the roster because that's who he was, in all those respects."

For all the celebrations or pre-game rituals that flood the NBA today, Duncan never entertained such needless antics.

Game 7: Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs

"You don't see Timmy beating his chest as if he was the first human being to hug the basketball, as a lot of people do these days," Popovich continued. "He's not pointing to the sky. He's not glamming to the cameras. He just plays, and we've seen it for so long it's become almost mundane. But it's so special that it has to be remembered."

So, where do the Spurs go from here?

"He's irreplaceable. It can't happen. We're all unique - I guess each one of us is unique - but he's been so important to so many people it's just mind-boggling. To think that he's going to be gone makes it really difficult to imagine walking into practice, going to a game, getting on the bus, taking him a piece of carrot cake, whatever it might be."

A Spurs outfit without Duncan is almost incomprehensible, but, unfortunately, it's now reality.

San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Tim Duncan
Kawhi Leonard
LaMarcus Aldridge
Manu Ginobili
Tony Parker

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