Shaquille O'Neal was a player who challenged everyone on the basketball court. Whether it was through his unstoppable play or his constant trash talk, he would break down his opponents in a multitude of ways and it all led to one of the most dominating careers in basketball history.
Still, there is one guy in his career that Shaq just couldn't get to: Spurs legend Tim Duncan. As he explained to The Athletic, Duncan was completely unfazed by trash talk or anything of the sort and it could be a reason why he found so much success over his amazing career.
“The Spurs won because of Tim Duncan, a guy I could never break,” O’Neal wrote in his autobiography. “I could talk trash to Patrick Ewing, get in David Robinson’s face, get a rise out of Alonzo Mourning, but when I went at Tim he’d look at me like he was bored. Whenever I run into a Tim Duncan fan who will claim Tim Duncan is the GOAT, I won’t disagree with him.”
Duncan's humble personality is well documented by the NBA community. Despite being a multiple-time MVP and league Champion, he never used his resume to show off.
Instead, he let his game do the talking.
“With all that success, if it was probably me, I would be an asshole, talking shit as much as possible,” said Antawn Jamison. “Not with him. He just came out, let his game do the talking, gave you 27 and 13. Just another day in the neighborhood. You knew it was coming and if you got up close to him thinking you were going to block the shot. He was so great and comfortable putting the ball on the floor, he could get to the rim with one dribble. … That bank shot was on point. The game plan was you had to double-team him.”
Duncan retired in 2016 and is often regarded as one of the 10 greatest players in basketball history. During one of the NBA's most exciting eras, he bested his opponents time and again with his leadership, reliability, and mastery of the fundamentals.
He also stands out as someone who stayed true to himself by never letting his fame or success get into his head.
All these years later, the guy is still drawing amazement for just how impenetrable he was.