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NBA: Pop bids Tim adieu

Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich

Spurs coach calls Duncan ‘most real’.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – San Antonio Spurs long time coach Gregg Popovich described five-time NBA champion Tim Duncan on Tuesday as the best example of a leader any coach in the NBA could hope for.

“He’s the most real, consistent and true person I’ve met in my life,’’ Popovich said. “When he speaks it’s for a purpose. He led by example.’’

Popovich was speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, 24 hours after Duncan, who is considered one of the greatest players in history, announced his retirement, ending 19 brilliant seasons with the Spurs.

Duncan and Popovich formed one of the most successful duos in National Basketball Association history, accounting for the most wins ever by a player-coach combination at 1,001.

“I figured I better come out and do this and somehow say goodbye to him, which is an impossibility for a lot of reasons,’’ said Popovich, who wore a black shirt with a picture of Duncan that read “Impossible Is Potential’’. “He’s been the best teammate anyone could ever imagine.’’

Duncan wasn’t present for the news conference.

The 40-year-old Duncan, who was selected as the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft, spent his entire career with the Spurs – an anomaly in a league where players often change teams.