Tim Duncan had a reputation as a low-key superstar. Although he was a generational talent with multiple rings and accolades, the power forward wasn’t one to be loud and obnoxious on the court. But fans who paid attention knew he didn’t lack personality.
Duncan wasn’t so much silent as he was quiet. He talked to opposing players and referees, but not in the abrasive way of some NBA players, like Draymond Green. While appearing on comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast, You Made It Weird, Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin discussed Duncan’s hilarious form of trash-talking.
Tim Duncan, the silent assassin?
On the podcast, Griffin discussed his NBA career with Holmes. When the topic of trash talk came up, the athlete mentioned Duncan as an example of how to do it correctly. Duncan never made it personal. Instead, he would trash talk by way of sarcastic one-liners.
“He would do this thing where maybe you were lined up at the free-throw line next to him, and he would look over at you and be like, ‘Oh not you again,'” Griffin said. “Or he would say something where he was engaging you, but he was also very sarcastic too, and I loved that.”
Playful banter vs. mean-spirited trash talk
Griffin expressed his appreciation for the playful way Duncan trash-talked his opponents. After all, it’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun. Duncan led a scandal-free career and became one of the most well-respected players in the NBA. And this is something Griffin took to heart, too.
“He would just always mess with me, and it would always make me be like, ‘Man, Tim’s a good guy,'” Griffin said. “Now I try to do that because that to me is better than seeing some young kid check-in and try to hit him hard or try to do what other guys did to me when I came in.”
Duncan, in many ways, serves as the antithesis to Kevin Garnett, someone he was compared with. While Duncan was quiet and didn’t want to hurt anyone, Garnett was notorious for crossing lines to get into an opponent’s head. It was Garnett, after all, who once told Duncan, “Happy Mother’s Day,” knowing that Duncan’s mother had passed away. Ouch.
However, thanks to his playful side, Duncan made an unlikely enemy one time. This story became legendary.
Tim Duncan vs. Joey Crawford
Joey Crawford was one of the most hot-headed officials in NBA history. His quick temper and knack for theatrics gave him a reputation as a referee who should not be messed with. Duncan learned this the hard way in a game against the Dallas Mavericks in 2007. Unhappy with the ways officials called the game, Duncan began to laugh from the bench and was t’d up by Crawford.
Later in the game, Duncan laughed from the bench again, and Crawford ejected him from the game. In the ensuing argument on the bench, Crawford allegedly challenged Duncan to a fight, to which Duncan jokingly agreed. It was, perhaps, a rare instance of his sarcasm getting the best of him. Crawford was suspended for the rest of the season, and Duncan had to pay a fine.
All in all, the incident is now viewed as a humorous display by both sides. Duncan is still viewed as one of the greatest class acts in history. When Griffin speaks about him, we can see his impact on the current generation.