Tim Duncan’s jersey retirement with the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night was filled with stories and anecdotes about Duncan’s leadership during his legendary 19-year career.
Duncan’s long-time teammate Manu Ginobili shared a particularly great story about how Duncan cheered him up after the Spurs lost a playoff game.
Ginobili explained that during a series against the Sacramento Kings, with the game on the line, he messed up the play, turned the ball over, and the Kings scored to win.
Upset with himself, Ginobili retreated to his hotel room, hoping to avoid talking to anyone.
“I was devastated,” Ginobili said. “I was truly embarrassed to have turned the ball over like that, and it really hurt me. I wanted to vanish. I wanted to dig a hole in the floor and just hide there forever.”
Ginobili said he turned off his phone as he sat in his hotel room. He said the hotel phone then rang and he ignored it. It rang again and he hung up several times, then unplugged it. However, there was another phone in the bathroom, which started ringing. Ginobili said after several calls, he finally picked it up, and said “What?” Duncan was on the line.
“He goes, ‘What’s up, buddy?'” Ginobili said, recalling the conversation. “‘What, TD? I don’t want to talk to anybody, you know what happened.'” Ginobili said Duncan insisted that he leave the room and go to dinner with him.
“He started insisting, insisting, insisting, and you don’t say no to Timmy. And he invited me to dinner, we talked for hours about computers, cars, TV shows, whatever. The whole night shifted, my mental state shifted, and I had a way better night than I would have otherwise.”
Ginobili said if you asked anyone that played with Duncan during his career, they’d have similar stories about Duncan reaching out to lift up teammates.
Watch the video of the Ginobili’s story below.