No matter how great a player is in the NBA, retirement is inevitable. But the greatness of some is so captivating that people think they should stick around a while despite the obvious wear and tear, alongside getting caught by father time. That's what former San Antonio Spurs guard Antonio Daniels thought when his friend Tim Duncan was already in his twilight years in the league.
Speaking for a friend
For those who didn't know, Daniels and Duncan are good pals. So when Timmy and the Spurs became a hot subject following their Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the 2015 playoffs, the media quizzed Daniels for comments.
According to Daniels, Duncan wouldn't go and play until his 40s like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, he is confident that Timmy will know when to hang his shoes, and based on how he knew "The Big Fundamental," that 2015 loss wouldn't prompt him to retire.
"I would be very surprised if he retired," Daniels said of Duncan via NBC Sports. "As long as he's staying at a level where he feels like he's relevant and competing, I can't see it… He's not going to be like Kareem and go out on a big retirement tour. He's going to wake up one morning and say, 'You know what? I don't have it anymore. I'm done.'"
In all fairness, Daniels appeared to be telling the truth. Duncan did not retire that year and played for another entire season. However, it was evident that he was no longer the multi-time NBA champion the world adored, having registered his career-low 8.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
And as Daniels predicted, after playing his least productive season, Duncan finally retired in 2016 at age 39.
Life doesn't end in basketball
After retiring, Duncan decided to continue sweating. But this time, he's no longer lacing up to play ball. Instead, he's putting on a pair of kickboxing gloves to throw some lethal combinations.
Knowing Timmy, many would assume he's still that gentle giant in kickboxing. However, his long-time coach Jason Echols revealed that the Duncan that shows up in his gym is far from what people used to see on the court.
"He was always the quiet guy in the public eye; I believe I saw a different side of him because he's a roaring lion in martial arts," Echols said of Duncan.
Whatever Duncan decides to do next in his life is all up to him, but as basketball fans, we will always be grateful for the memories.