How Tim Duncan beat Kevin Garnett in a trash-talking battle
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How Tim Duncan beat Kevin Garnett in a trash-talking battle

Tim Duncan is the one guy Kevin Garnett couldn’t win a trash-talking duel against. Why? Because Duncan never spoke. And when he did, he would say something like this.

Timmy would hit you in phrases. ‘Got you, ‘almost.’ This is the worst right here: (KG imitates tapping a player on the hip) ‘nice try.’ Subtle sh*t, no gangster sh*t, no hardcore sh*t. Just subtly back your ass up and put you back over here (in your place).

Kevin Garnett, All The Smoke

That’s the thing that frustrated KG the most about Timmy. He didn’t play by Garnett’s rules, nor did he ever try to meet the intensity to which Kevin would talk smack. Duncan wasn’t loud; he never tried to get his message across in an aggressive manner, nor did he seem bothered about The Big Ticket trying to get into his head.

A simple ‘got you‘ or ‘nice try‘ would do the job for Duncan, and KG couldn’t take it. He would spend all that energy trying to rile Timmy up, that it would take a toll on his own performance. That’s when he stopped talking trash to the Spurs icon. It just wasn’t worth the effort.

Now we know talking smack was never a part of the persona Duncan embodied. He was never the one to initiate it, nor did he allow to get caught up in it when initiated by someone else. But he wasn’t the only one. Many others were also immune to the trash-talking game, and Kevin Garnett would still find a way to get under their skin. So why did it never work with Duncan?

Because that’s what he wanted, he wanted to get you outside of yourself; he wanted to piss you off and control the situation. I guess I recognized that, but it also wasn’t a part of my game. It would frustrate people more when you just keep coming and coming and keep getting things done no matter what they throw at you or no matter what they do.

Tim Duncan, Real Ones

Duncan let his game do the talking. He would slip in a subtle shot here and there to provoke a reaction but never allowed the matchup to turn into a war of words. Timmy wanted to be the one in control, and when facing Kevin Garnett, the most effective way to do it was to keep his mouth shut. And it worked.

Out of 52 games the two have played against each other, Duncan led the Spurs to 33 wins. He didn’t speak much in the process, but he sure delivered when it was time to play ball.