Latest News, NBA / May 16, 2012 / 3:15 pm

Tim Duncan Hates Kevin Garnett

Tim Duncan (photo. Jonathan Mannion)

Tim Duncan (photo. Jonathan Mannion)

The Spurs were supposed to be dead two years ago. Tim Duncan was too. But in just a few months, they’ve gone from an afterthought to a probable champion, an undefeated playoff team led by one player who may turn out to be one of the three greatest ones ever. Yes, Duncan could one day be above everyone outside of Bill Russell and Michael Jordan. It’s not out of the question, especially if San Antonio has more rings left in it. He’s not finished, it turns out, and thus we have a rekindled interest, the proverbial stories on what exactly Tim Duncan meant to us. Who was he? Duncan never let us in on much, but at least we now know he hates Kevin Garnett.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote one of the most disappointing aspects of the previous 10 years was seeing a rivalry between KG and TD fizzle out before it even began. Garnett’s teams were never good enough, and then he was traded across the country just as Duncan’s teams were fading. Despite all that, Duncan said it was always a war between himself and Garnett. Turns out, he probably meant that literally.

Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Ballard recently penned an awesome piece on Duncan, and perhaps the most interesting bit was on the relationship between the two stars.

Ballard wrote:

Just kidding, as this might count in his favor. In fact, Duncan hates Kevin Garnett. Hates him the way liberals hate Sean Hannity. This information comes from very reliable sources, who talk about how KG has made a career of trying to punk Duncan, baiting him and slapping him and whispering really weird smack into his ear. They talk about how funny this is, because the worst thing you can do as an opponent is piss off Duncan. Then, as Malik Rose says, “he f—— destroys you.” Duncan’s lifetime numbers versus Garnett’s teams, by the way: 19.4 points per game, 11.6 boards and a 44–17 record, including the postseason.

Duncan is diplomatic about the topic. Asked if perhaps all those years battling Garnett have softened his feelings for the man, led to a Magic-Larry type of kinship, Duncan leans back on the couch in his hotel room and grins. There is a pause. A longer pause. Finally he says, “Define kinship.”

As Garnett aged, we uncovered many of his more disrespectful tactics, and I’ve heard rumblings about some pretty nasty on-court things he’s said to Duncan. Are they true? I know which side Charlie Villanueva would be leaning to.

We may have missed out on some great battles. But more than anything, I think Duncan missed out. Look at those head-to-head numbers. He definitely relishes punking Garnett.

Where on the “greatest player ever” list should these two end up?

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