San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is not usually one to wear his emotions on his sleeve on a regular occasion. Then again, it is not every day that Tim Duncan retires.
The usually gruff Popovich got emotional during his Tuesday news conference bidding farewell to Duncan, the man who helped him win five NBA championships in 19 NBA seasons.
"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," Popovich told reporters.
Popovich added: "He's the most real, consistent, true person that I've ever met in my life.
"I can be on him in a game and ask him why he's not rebounding in a relatively stern way and really get on him in front of everybody. And on his way back to the court, he'll say, 'Thanks for the motivation, Pop. Thanks for the support, Pop.' Then he'll turn away with his eyes up in the air and we'll both start laughing. And people don't see those things. But his team-mates have and that's why his team-mates love him."
The Spurs announced Duncan's retirement on Monday.
Duncan elected not to attend on Tuesday, instead allowing his coach to have the last word.
Popovich called Duncan "irreplaceable."
"We're all unique. I guess each one of us is unique," Popovich said. "But he's been so important to so many people, it's just mind boggling."
Duncan was best known for not wanting to be known. He kept it low key, and his coach appreciated that.
"You don't see Timmy beating his chest as if he was the first human being to dunk the basketball, as a lot of people do these days. He's not pointing to the sky," Popovich said.
"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."