But Duncan is a model of professionalism no matter which team your root for – or what work you do. In fact, Timothy Theodore Duncan was a model of professionalism, high character, and humility throughout his career. Chiropractors would be wise to emulate Duncan, even if they are leading a practice and adjusting spines instead of leading a NBA team and lighting up scoreboards.
First, the long list of Duncan’s accomplishments:
He went to Wake Forest University, where he was a two-time ACC player of the year,
NCAA defensive player of the year three times, and had his #21 jersey retired by Wake Forest before his final home game in 1997.
Drafted #1 by the Spurs, Duncan was the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award and the first rookie since Larry Bird in 1980 to be named to the All-NBA First Team.
He spent his entire 19-year career with the Spurs, where he won five NBA championships, two Most Valuable Player awards, was a three time NBA finals MVP, and a 15-time NBA All-Star.
When he retired this offseason, Duncan had amassed:
26,496 points, 14th on the league’s all-time scoring list.
15,091 rebounds, sixth on the all-time list.
3,064 blocks, fifth on the all-time list.
1,392 games, seventh on the all-time list.
While those awards and statistics confirm Duncan as the best power forward ever and one of the best players in history, what’s more amazing is that his legacy goes much further, as his character, leadership, and professionalism have become the gold standard for NBA players, coaches, and entire organizations, as well as teams in any sport.
It’s even more priceless to hear praise about Duncan’s professionalism from his peers in the NBA:
Shaquille O’Neal: “The Spurs won because of Tim Duncan, a guy I could never break. I could talk trash to Patrick Ewing, get in David Robinson’s face, get a rise out of Alonzo Mourning, but when I went at Tim he’d look at me like he was bored. ”
Coach Byron Scott: “He’s not throwing behind-the-back passes, he’s not doing tomahawk jams, he’s not doing anything that’s very flashy. He’s just a very unassuming guy who goes about his job, and the next thing you know he’s got 23 points and 20 rebounds. ”
Here are 7 lessons chiropractors can learn from Tim Duncan:
Born in the island nation of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, Duncan was actually an accomplished swimmer until a hurricane wrecked his community pool, after which he switched to basketball. Chiropractors sometimes have to be flexible with their plans, strategies and vision to roll with the times and adapt to changing circumstances, just like Duncan did.
Honor your word
As a teen, Duncan’s mother was dying of breast cancer, and he promised her that he would get his college degree, no matter what. After high school he could have easily jumped to the NBA (in those days high schoolers could go straight to the NBA), making millions and starting his pro career. But he attended small Wake Forest University instead so he can earn his college degree and uphold his promise to his mother. Again, as a sophomore and junior he would have been a top lottery pick in the NBA, but turned down the lure of the NBA to stay in school. He did finish his four years in college and earned his degree in psychology from Wake before being drafted.
Perfect the fundamentals
Duncan didn’t just rely on natural ability or athleticism, but spent thousands of hours specializing (short bank shot jumper) and drilling the basics until he got them down perfectly. It’s no wonder his nickname was “The Big Fundamental!”
Longevity is critical to success
Tim Duncan won championship rings with David Robinson in 1999 and then again with Kawi Leonard, in 2014, with three rings in between spanning three different decades! In fact, Leonard was still in first grade when Duncan won his first, and they still won one together in 2014. In fact, the Spurs had an above-.600 winning percentage over Duncan’s 19-year career, an unbelievable accomplishment!
The Spurs won because Duncan 100% bought in to a system, and that system allowed each player to define their roles and maximize their potential, creating synergy. Without that system, neither Duncan nor the Spurs would have reached such heights.
By making it a point to suppress his ego, Duncan helped create a unique culture that made the Spurs the pride of the NBA and a highly sought after destination for players. Where else in the NBA do you routinely see players taking way less money just to be a part of something special? That all started with the fact that Duncan remained incredibly humble and treated others well, no matter who they were.
Be the best teammate
Duncan never second-guessed coach Greg Popovich, or complained when other teammates got the last second shots, or even balked when he was relegated to a backup role later in his career. Duncan always put team first and had his teammates’ backs, and the loyalty that fostered made the Spurs more like a loyal family than a basketball team.
Just like Duncan, chiropractors will see great success if they remain flexible, always honor their word, perfect the fundamentals, focus on longevity, build systems, remain humble, and always be a great teammate.