On Pro Basketball: A Long Goodbye for Tim Duncan? ‘That Wouldn’t Be Him’

After saying he wanted no part of a prolonged goodbye, Kobe Bryant went out this season the only way he could, savoring every cheer to the last jump shot.

Pressey said, “Tim Duncan, no, that wouldn’t be him.”

Who was Tim Duncan beyond the fundamentally pure, team-first all-timer? None of our business, he answered repeatedly across the years with his trademark reticence.

After all this time, we can’t even authoritatively define Duncan by position, not that we need to. The Spurs mostly listed him as a power forward but, after David Robinson’s retirement in 2003, who in Duncan’s generation other than Shaq was ever more of a hub, or a centerpiece?

“I never saw him as just a center or a power forward,” Pressey said. “I saw him as both because he was whatever you needed him to be. Low post, high post — facing the basket, you could even say he was like a point guard. That was the first thing that hit me when I went to see him. His impact on the game could be like Magic Johnson.”

Go ahead, laugh at the notion of Duncan, perhaps the greatest bland player/personality in N.B.A. history, as the stylistic equal of a man nicknamed Magic. But Johnson would be the…

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