Tim Duncan thanks Gregg Popovich in heartfelt moment during Hall of Fame speech

After a long delay due to COVID-19, the Class of 2020 was finally inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday night. This was an especially memorable class, with legends from the NBA, WNBA and college basketball earning their place among basketball immortality. 

We saw emotional speeches from everyone, including Kevin Garnett and Vanessa Bryant, who honored her late husband, Kobe Bryant. Another star honored in Springfield was Tim Duncan. During his speech, he shared a particularly heartfelt moment with his longtime coach and friend, Gregg Popovich. 

Duncan’s full message to Popovich:

“He’s gonna get mad at me if I talk about him. Sorry Pop… Coach Pop: The standard you set. You showed up after I got drafted. You came to my island, you sat with my friends, my family, you talked with my dad. I thought that was normal. It’s not. You are an exceptional person. Thank you for teaching me about basketball, but even beyond that teaching me that it’s not all about basketball. It’s about what’s happening in the world, it’s about your family. Just, thank you for everything.”

The No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan spent 19 seasons with the Spurs, and Popovich was there for all of them. Together they formed one of the league’s all-time dynasties, winning five titles together — 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014 — in three decades. 

Along the way, Duncan won Rookie of the Year, three MVPs, three Finals MVPs, and made 15 All-Star Games, 15 All-NBA appearances and 15 All-Defense appearances. He was not only one of the best players of his generation, but one of the best players ever. 

When his playing days were done, Duncan even joined the Spurs’ coaching staff for a season to work with Popovich, a testament to their relationship. It was little surprise, then, that Popovich skipped the Spurs’ game against the Suns on Saturday to be at Duncan’s ceremony. 

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