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Old 04-08-06, 08:16 PM
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Robinson, Duncan, and fatherhood

DISCLAIMER #1: Nerves have been raw, especially lately, regarding the topic of Tim Duncan. My intent here is not to create controversy, though I recognize that my intentions are irrelevant depending on who's doing the reading. I'll only say, on my own behalf, that I have consistently defended Tim and given him the benefit of the doubt. This particular topic is only somewhat related to his current struggles.

DISCLAIMER #2: This is not an examination of which player was better - I simply want to explore a theme that has come about in recent seasons.


David Robinson and Tim Duncan have been linked in the public's mind for many years and for obvious reasons. Using a casual evaluation, this seems justified: both are/were outstanding, versatile big men with great humility and character. Of course, a closer examination reveals some separation between the two. Robinson was a Naval officer and his bearing reflected that, with his suits and proper posture. Robinson, as is well documented, is a Christian committed to his faith and values. Tim Duncan exudes a more bohemian and carefree lifestyle than Robinson. Duncan's clothing, even in more formal settings, is casual. Duncan is more private than Robinson about his faith and his life.
In their games as well one can discern obvious differences. Robinson was more athlete than ballplayer and relied on matchup advantages for his points. Duncan is a player with a complete skill set who is sometimes overmatched physically. Mentally, Duncan seemed to be better equipped to handle pressure situations than was Robinson.

In 2005-06, Tim Duncan is struggling through the worst season of his professional career. His production is down and this has been the subject of much discussion. There are competing (sometimes concurrent) theories as to why Duncan is struggling. No one will argue that Duncan's nearly season-long battle with plantar faciitis plays a role. Some suggest Duncan is on the wrong side of the peak of his career.
The third theory is the one I would like to discuss here as it relates to David Robinson - the man who preceded Duncan as the centerpiece and face of the franchise:

Duncan's new role as a father has changed his priorities and he is not as committed to basketball as he once was.

David Robinson was faced with the same challenge in his playing career. And we longtime fans can recall those criticisms levelled at Robinson when his teams failed to win the championship: (all together now) He's "soft", he's not a leader, he's not fully committed to basketball.

The idea to that third criticism was that because of Robinson's extensive charity work and ministry, Robinson was spending time that he could have been using honing his game. And like Duncan now, fatherhood was a part of Robinson's life during the peak of his career. At no time that I can recall was it suggested that Robinson's fatherhood was hindering his career. Granted, at that time the internet was comparatively deserted and rumors didn't surface nearly as often then.

So what of Duncan's fatherhood? Duncan has never been criticized for lack of focus on basketball, yet we hear from time to time that Duncan's fatherhood has changed his priorities to a degree.

What do we conclude? Is this talk of Duncan's new responsibility:

A) Accurate?
B) Completely false?
C) Somewhat on the mark?
D) Accurate but temporary?

I wonder if the trophy photos tell us anything. In 1999 and 2003, we have enduring images of Robinson and Duncan, beaming from ear to ear, holding up the championship trophy and Finals MVP trophy respectively. The signature photo from 2005 shows a weary and unsmiling Tim Duncan holding up both trophies himself.

I thank you for considering my questions and apologize in advance if anything here was unfair in some way.
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Old 04-08-06, 08:34 PM
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Who knows?

To me, it is a viable hypothesis, but to many here, even the mere mention of something like this means we doubt TD and are happy to trade him.

But we're not going to find out, because we don't want to go pry into Tim's personal life (well, at least I don't). If it is that, then it is what it is, and we have to live with it.

One clue is that Tim didn't come into the season having eliminated a weakness in his arsenal that became very apparent in the Finals - the lack of a dependable left-handed jump hook. Sheed and Ben smothered him virtually every single time he was on the right block because they didn't respect his left handed hook, and played him to shoot with his right hand.
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Old 04-08-06, 08:41 PM
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I'm pretty sure the majority of pro athletes put family before the game. I doubt it has that big of an impact on their game.
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Old 04-08-06, 08:56 PM
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Taking a quote from Tim Duncan on Tony Parker: "When your happy, you play good basketball." Pop has always demonstrated that family comes first. So IMO, I don't think family has changed Tim's competitiveness or drive. He may get less sleep at night, but that's it.
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Old 04-08-06, 09:05 PM
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maybe this is true but I think we are trying to go deeper into things than what is there :op

Before Duncan's foot issue popped up this season he started off the early year looking great. looked rested from the summer and ready to go

dealing with the foot issue during the season...then he started to get on track..and then had the sickness (which reports say caused him to lose as much as 15 pounds) have everything to do with a non typical Duncan season than his baby or some other issue/

but none of us are Duncan so who knows. I just wont ever bet against him and until he doesnt bring it in the playoffs I will never believe he wont. I saw Duncan on two VERY badly sprained anlkles last year help SA win a title

nothing is going to make me believe Duncan doesnt still have a massive competitive drive

Quote:
but to many here, even the mere mention of something like this means we doubt TD and are happy to trade him.
There has been more than several posts since last night seriously questioning Duncan..suggesting he is past his prime and that SA should even think about trading him. those comments actually existed
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Old 04-08-06, 09:06 PM
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Well I don't know about Tim but I know when I was thirty and had two kids I didn't have near the competitive spirit that I did at say age 21 or so.

Honestly though I think TD still has a competitive spirit. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn't get down for all the no-calls though. It has to be somewhat discouraging to constantly be fouled in the post and get to the line as little as he does. He is getting no respect this year.
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Old 04-08-06, 09:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpursFan FoLife
I'm pretty sure the majority of pro athletes put family before the game. I doubt it has that big of an impact on their game.
Two things:

1) The majority of pro atheletes aren't playing for a championship contender, and of those who are, few are the centerpiece of their team.

2) You can't really make a blanket statement on how family affects career, it's different for each player and their unique situation.
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Old 04-08-06, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasNate
Well I don't know about Tim but I know when I was thirty and had two kids I didn't have near the competitive spirit that I did at say age 21 or so.

Honestly though I think TD still has a competitive spirit. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn't get down for all the no-calls though. It has to be somewhat discouraging to constantly be fouled in the post and get to the line as little as he does. He is getting no respect this year.
That's the truth. Never before have I seen Tim get so many Technicals in a year. The refs have been giving him no respect this year.
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Old 04-08-06, 09:52 PM
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In the wake of his fathers death, Duncan was as focused and determined as ever.

I can't imagine how losing your father affects you compared to being a father yourself, but I don't think it changed Duncans game or approach drastically.

I think more than anything - Duncan is laboring more than he cares to let on.

He's never been the kind of guy that jacks up 25 shots looking for his numbers (although sometimes I wish he would) - but I've never seen him as passive or reluctant as I did in a "big game" enviornment, than I did Friday against Dallas.

We could look into any number of factors (age, passion, fatherhood, complacency) - but I think the primary factor in his struggles have been his inuries.

I still feel he has the mental toughness to persevere and I still expect him to do just that.
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Old 04-08-06, 09:58 PM
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I believe Tim has 10 techs this season. Indeed he is getting nothing from the refs. Heck, the whole team is getting nothing from the refs this season. We are #1 in points in the paint and can't even get more free throws than our opponents. Disgusting.

A competing hypothesis is that it isn't about newfound family commitments, but it is about some level of burnout. Tim has been competing at the highest levels for several years straight, and lost two summers to Olympics. Perhaps even a summer's rest hasn't quite been enough.

The Plantar Fasciitis might have something to do with Tim rolling out his spin move earlier in the season.
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Old 04-08-06, 10:01 PM
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Spurs 2-0, Rockets 2-2, Jazz 0-2 - I really enjoyed your post. I thought it was well written and well thought out and I really enjoyed your honest comparrison of Duncan and Robinson.

There was a similar thread to this last night - but it wasn't approached with as much thought and certainly not written as well. I basically blew that one off (as did Hantler and the thread subsequently dissapeared), but you got my attention, kept it and made me actually think about your theory.

Excellent job.
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Old 04-08-06, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Deimos
2) You can't really make a blanket statement on how family affects career, it's different for each player and their unique situation.


I cant make a blanket statmenet on family's affecting career but the thread starter can make claims that Duncan's new role as a father has changed his priorities and he is not as committed to basketball as he once was.

Ok
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Old 04-08-06, 10:30 PM
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The dude's foot freakin hurts.

End of story.
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Old 04-08-06, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpursFan FoLife


I cant make a blanket statmenet on family's affecting career but the thread starter can make claims that Duncan's new role as a father has changed his priorities and he is not as committed to basketball as he once was.

Ok
I meant that I disagree with your statement, not that you can't make it.
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Old 04-08-06, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichB
Spurs 2-0, Rockets 2-2, Jazz 0-2 - I really enjoyed your post. I thought it was well written and well thought out and I really enjoyed your honest comparrison of Duncan and Robinson.

There was a similar thread to this last night - but it wasn't approached with as much thought and certainly not written as well. I basically blew that one off (as did Hantler and the thread subsequently dissapeared), but you got my attention, kept it and made me actually think about your theory.

Excellent job.
Thank you Rich.

I was kind of hesitant to post this because things have been a little wacky lately, but I've heard several anecdotal references to Duncan's priorities (possibly) shifting notably. I simply wanted to explore the question as objectively as I was capable of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpursFan FoLife


I cant make a blanket statmenet on family's affecting career but the thread starter can make claims that Duncan's new role as a father has changed his priorities and he is not as committed to basketball as he once was.

Ok
I wasn't making that claim - I was raising the question - a difference. I simply wanted other perspectives on this issue. I've heard enough anecdotes that I thought it merited a discussion.
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Old 04-08-06, 11:57 PM
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I say good for these athletes that put their family first. It doesn't mean they are any less of a competitor, but they are a good role model for all of us. In fact the Spurs have always, in my opinion, been a team full of some good role models...except for a few, Rodman comes to mind.

Any talk of trading Duncan is a just a bad idea, and yes his foot just probably really hurts. The Mavs don't beat the Spurs in a seven game series, or five for that matter. Duncan will come through. It was a rare night Friday night that both Duncan and Parker had a bad game. If just one of those guys has a better game and gets just their normal amount of points that whole game is different.
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Old 04-08-06, 11:59 PM
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Exactly.
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Old 04-09-06, 04:10 AM
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With all due respect, any discussion of their faiths or the familes or their priorities on them are none of our business.

You wouldn't like it being discussed publicly, why would you think they do. What even gives us the right?

The stats speak for themselves and they are superb. Both will always be Top 100 players of all time.
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Old 04-09-06, 09:01 PM
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HELLOooooooooooooooooooooo

tim duncan was never into basketball? remember... no facial expressions. no fist pumps.
he's just taking his paycheck and going home. same story, different year.

right.

anyway... yeah the whole faterhood thing may defn be playing a part... but its no point that i would ever criticize so i dont' see the point
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Old 04-09-06, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
A competing hypothesis is that it isn't about newfound family commitments, but it is about some level of burnout. Tim has been competing at the highest levels for several years straight, and lost two summers to Olympics. Perhaps even a summer's rest hasn't quite been enough.

The Plantar Fasciitis might have something to do with Tim rolling out his spin move earlier in the season.
I do think fatherhood could be playing a role in this, but I tend to agree with this idea above.

The man has been playing basketball forever and for high stakes. I can see Tim having a hard time putting 100% into games. You can see it all over him.

I see:

1. His body doesn't quite do what it use to (only slightly)

2. He knows there is still a lot of basketball left, and he doesn't have to get too serious just yet.

3. It's easy to let Tony and Manu and everyone else take the load.

4. His foot hurts and probably other parts as well.

5. Pop has probably told him to stay conservative.

I really think that these days with his foot and fatigue, he just isn't interested enough to labor for shots and blocks until it means something. All of their close games this month Tim has waited until it's down to the last few minutes before he turns it on all the way. The Dallas game to me showed it when it was under four minutes or so, and Tim drives on Dampier spins back to the left and in for the lay up. Rarely have we seen moves like this all year, but he seems to do it when he feels the need. So my gues is that he's a little hurt, tired, and uninterested.

Just wait for the playoffs.
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Old 04-10-06, 03:24 AM
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Duncan strikes me as a hands on dad kind of guy. I can see him participating in late night babycare that other players might leave exclusively to the wife or nanny. I can also believe there might be some regret about being on the road so much. However, I doubt this significantly impacts his game. On the contrary, fatherhood can bring a level of contentment and an expansion of ones interrelational scope that I think would outweigh any negatives. If your content off the court it leaves more of you mentally to invest on the court.

Duncan is just riding his injury, trying to do as well as he can without exacerbating it. I really do think his struggles are that simple.

Last edited by Supernatural Anesthetist; 04-10-06 at 05:19 PM.
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