The Gregg Popovich-Tim Duncan relationship one has been magical for a long time:
Popovich still serves as a father figure to Duncan—fulfilling a promise to Duncan’s dad made upon his son’s entry into the league—but the footing’s a little more equal now. Duncan is retired, and “coach” is no longer his coach, but it’s not as if Popovich still doesn’t expect Duncan to show up to Spurs camp. After all, where else would he go?
At media day, Popovich joked that he’d be fining Duncan $2,500 for each day of camp he misses.
“Most people under contract are required to show up for their jobs,” Popovich said “He said he didn’t have a contract, but I told him I thought we had a verbal contract, and I thought that was just as good as written. We’re having a tough time right now, the two of us, trying to get him straight. He’s always been tough to manage but especially so now that he’s retired.”
Duncan wasn’t there for the first day of camp on Tuesday, but did arrive on Wednesday. Wearing a t-shirt and shorts, he watched a scrimmage and mingled with players during the shootaround. This feels like Duncan’s role with the team—guy who’s just kinda there, to talk and hang. He may even travel with the Spurs this year, even though he doesn’t actually formally work for the team. “He is the coach of whatever he feels like,” Popovich said.