The NBA is defined by the many eras it has already witnessed, different players and skill sets have dominated those eras. The centers, the big men ruled the game for the longest time, before Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson made it about the guards. The 00s were dominated by the power forwards, and 3 names stood out above all the rest. Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Dirk Nowitzki were among the golden generation of forwards in that era.
Duncan and Garnett were as different as two NBA stars can be from one another. While Duncan was reserved, methodical, and consistent, Garnett was passionate, fiery, and incredibly tenacious. Both were competitive, or they would never have reached the heights that they did, but they showed it in very different ways.
KG was known for his trash talk, saying whatever he needed to get into his opponent's heads. Udonis Haslem has spoken about how vile some of the things he would say were. But Duncan was the opposite, he never talked trash. He explained that it was a lot more frustrating for his opponents to watch him quietly dominate.
But that doesn't mean he never spoke on the court, and Garnett was the one who provided some insight into the things Duncan would say while playing on the 'All The Smoke' podcast.
(starts at 1:15 minutes):
People wouldn’t see him verbally saying stuff, he wouldn’t talk in sentences. Timmy would hit you in phrases. "Gotchu, Ooo, Almost.' This the worst one right here, “Nice try”. Like subtle sh*t, no gangster sh*t, no real hardcore sh*t."
“What really, really, really pissed me off, was when the trash talk wasn’t affecting him. So now, you’re spending all this energy trying to rile this up, you now forgot about your own game… And that’s when I quit talking trash to Timmy."
There wasn't much percentage in trying to rile Duncan up; the man was implacable as a glacier. Considering that his attitude worked so brilliantly for him too, there's no reason he would ever have switched it up either. And Garnett used his trash-talking to hype himself up as much as tearing his opponent down, so this had the effect of throwing him off his game as well.
Duncan may not be the most exciting player in the history of the NBA, but players can learn a lot from how the man behaved on the court. His mastery over the simple stuff in basketball and terms of mentality allowed him to become the greatest in his position and arguably a Top 10 player of all time.