Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Brief And Obvious Point About Tim Duncan's Divorce

Who gets the dogs?
Hovering around the periphery of the Spurs' run for the last couple of weeks has been the tabloids working the semi-secret personal life of Hall of Fame power forward and franchise cornerstone Tim Duncan, and his impending divorce from his wife of 12 years. There's been talk about how the suit is being delayed by the Spurs' long playoff run, how Timmy had a pre-nup and a PI following around his spouse since last year, and so on, and so on.

I've really tried to resist writing about it, just the same as I've tried to resist clicking on those stories. And as you can tell from the header and lede, I've failed. But hopefully for a good cause.

Part of the reason why I've failed to stay just in the realm of Game is, well, it's basketball: the sport that gives us the most face time of any of the majors, what with the 100+ regular and playoff games and the lack of helmets or pads. It's impossible to watch a team for any length of time and not get into pop psychoanalysis about them, and resisting that urge just makes you a numbers nerd. Duncan's game is so controlled, so consistent (let's face it, his signature move is a bank shot) and so reasoned, he just doesn't seem to be the kind of man who would be capable of making decisions that don't work out well, on or off the court. He's the NBA's Spock, the guy who could probably be mayor of San Antonio for a few decades without even running for office, and the worst complaint I've ever heard from NBA fans about him is that he's boring, since his interviews are perfunctory, his game is always the same, and he doesn't care to look hip.

Which means that a divorce gives every armchair jockey (yes, guilty) carte blanche to note how the congruence of personal hell and his rage against the dying of the light late-career resurgence to NBA First Team All-Pro must be related, as if playing pro hoop were basically the same as being a singer-songwriter, fine artist, or spectacular drunk or drug abuser. Which is all, well, grade A fertilizer; Duncan has been great this year because Duncan has always been great. In 2012-13, he's also been healthy and on a team that is so good, so deep and so well-coached that he's in no way gassed despite having already played an extra quarter of the season, and counting.

Sidebar: the Shooter Wife is my second. I was married for a little over 2 years and several decades in my mid-20s. I won't get into the details of the relationship because it is just not that interesting, but I will say this about it: nothing, and I do mean nothing, in my life improved or got inspiration from the experience, other than the long-term gain of not spending the rest of my life with the wrong person. I was a musician back then and used it for song lyrics, and all that did was make my songs dated and difficult to listen to later. I suppose I'm better at getting over depressive states now, since I've been through far worse times, but even that's a shaky benefit. Nothing from that time has anywhere close to the impact of, say, my youngest daughter in a hospital room. (She's had asthma episodes, and no, I have nothing to complain about compared to people who have kids with real issues. But you get the point.)

So if you find yourself needing to put Duncan's off and on the court lives together to explain this great season... just stop. You don't know the man, and neither do I, but killing the single thing in his life that may not be about profound sadness and regret is cruel beyond the telling. If you are a Duncan fan, you are also demeaning his achievement and giving backhanded credit to his ex. If you are a feminist, you are undermining your own cause by telling the falsehood that distance from women is a requirement for athletic greatness. And it's all so unnecessary.

Tim Duncan is good at basketball because Tim Duncan is good at basketball.

We don't really need to explain it more than that.

Or to know anything else about his off the court life to appreciate what he does on it.

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