WHO: Tim Duncan
WHAT: The retired Spur is returning to the court, this time as assistant coach.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Tim Duncan’s departure from the Spurs in 2016 wasn’t a surprise—most fans had been bracing for the decision for years. Still, when he finally made the announcement three years ago, it felt strange. Over the course of his 19-year playing career, Tim Duncan became the face of the Spurs. He was the team’s rock—soft-spoken and humble—the kind of player opponents respected and fans could count on to lead the team to championship after championship. Without him, things were just different.
Sure, Duncan might not be returning to the NBA in a jersey, and he might not be on the court. But after the Spurs announced that “The Big Fundamental” would be joining the team as assistant coach, the world seemed to make sense again. With five NBA Championships and 1,392 games under his belt, the two-time MVP is undoubtedly an experienced candidate, though he might not have been the team’s first choice (a recent report from The New York Times’ Marc Stein holds that the team approached the recently-retired Manu Ginobili for the role). Though Ginobili apparently wasn’t quite ready to come back to the team so soon, Duncan’s new role has fans holding out hope for a Big Three reunion on the sidelines one day.
It’s unclear exactly what life with “Coach Tim” will look like just yet. Still, having someone who’s universally agreed upon as one of the greatest to ever play the game will definitely make this upcoming season one to watch—especially to see him get over his aversion to wearing suits.