Farewell to the Big Fundamental

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Blake Griffin, Forward / Los Angeles Clippers - The Players' Tribune

The first NBA game I ever went to was in San Antonio. I was like eight or nine years old. I happened to be in town for an AAU tournament, and my friend’s family took us to a Spurs game. We were seated way up in the third level, almost in the very last row of the Alamodome.

I have this vivid memory of looking way, way, way down to the floor and seeing Tim Duncan and David Robinson warming up. Tim was doing his whole routine — all the classics. The hook shot, the bank shot, the reverse pivot, everything that made him the Big Fundamental.

So fast-forward to 10 years later, and I’m playing in one of my first NBA preseason games with the Clippers. I’m shooting, doing layups, going through my whole routine, and then at a certain point I turn and look down the court.

I see Tim warming up, practicing his bank shot.

He was right there, 50 feet away, raining buckets. Silky smooth. No facial expression. Just totally about his business. Hook shot, hook shot, bank.

I genuinely geeked out.

I stopped in my tracks and just watched him doing his thing for a good 30 seconds.

I had to tell myself, “I’m about to literally line up across from this guy. I’m about to guard Tim Duncan. This is happening.”

When you get to the NBA, you’re all about your pride. You have blinders on. You want to prove that nothing fazes you. But everybody has that one “holy shit” moment, when you realize how fortunate you are to be on that floor going up against somebody you grew up idolizing.

Thanks for giving me that moment, Tim.

It was so surreal to go from my first NBA game ever — sitting way up near the roof of the Alamodome, to actually being on the floor with you, about to tip it off.

It was a pleasure to battle against you throughout the years. Best of luck in whatever’s next.

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