San Antonio Spurs icon Tim Duncan has accomplished many things in his storied career — five championships, two MVPs, 14 All-Star appearances, etc. — but he has never been much for dressing like a multimillionaire international superstar. Duncan's sartorial choices tend towards those of a relentlessly uncool record-store clerk and/or comic book geek, all genre references and oversized plaid shirts that, as a friend once put it, seem to have been picked up in a stack from a table at Costco. It should come as little surprise that the (Three Sizes Too) Big Fundamental referred to the NBA's dress code as "a load of crap" (plus some more offensive things) when it was instituted in 2005.
Duncan and the rest of the reigning champion Spurs visited the White House on Monday for their post-title meeting with President Barack Obama. Like most other sports figures, they took the occasion seriously and arrived in their finest suits. Only Duncan, though, chose to go without the tie. Take a look at the photo:
Some of our more patriotic readers (or at least those most deferential to power) may see Duncan's move as a sign of disrespect and displaying a lack of reverence for the occasion, although likely not as part of a full-blown political statement. Yet Duncan's decision to go tieless pales in comparison to those athletes who have flat-out refused to meet with Obama and other presidents in the past. That group includes such NBA luminaries as Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, both of whom appeared to consider their visits with standing Leaders of the Free World wastes of time.
More recently, then-Boston Bruins goalkeeper Tim Thomas chose not to meet with Obama in 2012 due to his belief that the federal government had grown out of control, while Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch opted to skip out on his team's time with our 44th chief executive simply because he wasn't interested. Those more interested in style and fashion might remember that several members of the Northwestern women's lacrosse team wore flip-flops when they met with President George W. Bush in 2005. At least no one had to look at and/or smell Duncan's feet.
This silly story says a lot more about Duncan than his lack of respect for the presidency, which is really just a tangential issue to the matter at hand. The man is not going to bend his wardrobe preferences for anyone, no matter if he has access to nuclear launch codes. I'm even willing to bet that Duncan immediately untucked his shirt like an eight-year-old at church after the assembled media turned off their cameras.
For what it's worth, Obama didn't seem especially turned off by Duncan's lack of neckwear. In fact, he praised the Spurs organization as a manifestation of American ideals. From the Associated Press:
President Barack Obama is praising the sportsmanship of the San Antonio Spurs as ''a great metaphor for what America should be all about.'' [...]
Obama says the Spurs have become the United Nations of basketball teams due to the team's diversity. He says it shows how basketball has become an international sport.
Obama singled the team out for hiring WNBA star Becky Hammon last year. She's the first full-time, paid female assistant on an NBA coaching staff.
A tie doesn't seem so important in the face of those positives.
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