Spurs' Popovich misses everything about Tim Duncan

FILE - In this April 5, 2007, file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) talks with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, left, during the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Its been nearly two years since San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan retired from the game of basketball but his presence is still sorely missed by Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

Prior to the team's game against the Golden State Warriors, Popovich was asked about what has been the key to the franchise's sustained success which has included five NBA titles, countless 50-plus win seasons, and a legitimate NBA title contender.

Immediately, Popovich credited Duncan and what he brought to the team on and off the floor.

“Tim Duncan. I’m not being glib or anything like that," said Popovich. "Everybody just responded to his example on and off the court, the way he practiced, coming early and staying late. The way he handled wins. The way he handled losses."

"He was such a competitor on the court without wanting to be in front of the camera or anything like that. I think more than anything,that was the basis for our long-term success.”

Since Duncan and Popovich paired up, Popovich has always said he wouldn't be in the position he'd be in if it wasn't for Duncan's presence. Always, Popovich credited Duncan for each win, each playoff victory and each title.

But Duncan off the court is what Popovich may miss the most.

"It was his unbelievable character. I’m not talking about that he was this perfect little Cub Scout. He’s just a wonderful human being who really understood about empathy and love and cared for his teammate. It always showed," Popovich said.

This season, the Spurs have had a rough road. Dealing with injuries, losing streaks, and a reported rift between star Kawhi Leonard and the franchise (which Kawhi has denied).

This season's team could use Duncan's steady hand and leadership while wading through choppy waters. However, Pop had kept the fighting for a top-4 spot in the West playoff race and gotten the best out of player's who have been asked to step up during this injury-plagued season.

"He was such a stalwart, such a foundation. He exuded such a leadership in a quiet way," added Popovich.

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