Have you ever thought Tim Duncan’s smooth, buttery game was reminiscent of Lionel Richie’s voice and aura? Yeah, us too. In the second edition of Steven’s weekly musician-hooper mashup we bring together the Spurs Great with the Beautiful Balladeer.
Happy week 2 of Totally Sounds Like, the MMH exclusive that brings you a beautifully constructed, weirdly perfect mashup of your favorite NBA legends’ playstyle and their respective musical icon counterpart.
I really hope I haven’t peaked with this series in just its second installment, but believe me when I tell you: Tim Duncan’s Game TOTALLY SOUNDS LIKE Lionel Richie!
Or keep reading and see for yourself!
Tim Duncan, The Big Fundamental, is widely considered the greatest power forward of all-time. He’s also widely considered one of the most “boring” superstars to ever play the game. Never flashy, always classy, Tim may not have been an air bending, tomahawk dunking machine, but he was as close to an automatic bucket as they come. And for those who missed Tim’s younger years or live outside of SA, he was far from a delicate little sunflower that avoided contact. Go look, he could give you a poster dunk and slink away to get in position for his next block to the stands.
Watching a Duncan performance was like watching Bob Ross paint an entire landscape. Starts off soft, sweet, just some happy little trees and then *BOOM* a true masterpiece appears before you. Full of greenery, mountains and clouds, birds and snow; an entire experience that seemed so effortless, yet so thoughtfully constructed—a la Timmy D giving a couple of jab steps, a couple of contested bankers, a dunk here and there, and all of the sudden he’s got damn near a quadruple-double with 30 points, 15 boards, 11 assists, 4 steals, 6 blocks and leaves with another legendary dub. The man earned a staggering 1,158 of those throughout his regular and postseason career. Timothy. Theodore. Duncan. The Quiet Monster.
I grew up a Spurs fan and feel absolutely privileged to not only have watched Tim and the Spurs reign over the NBA for most of my childhood, but to have witnessed one of the most gracious, selfless and kind human beings to ever reach the NBA. He achieved his success through relentless hard work, gratitude, and patience over his incredible 19 years on and off the court.
A competitive swimmer from the St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Timmy didn’t start playing basketball until high school after Hurricane Hugo destroyed his community pool. Though Duncan was already gone and seen as the highest-valued college star by the time I showed up to VI, I did spend a year living in St. Croix when I was just 2 years old and have always appreciated the island vibes Duncan carries with him to this day.
Locked in as the number one pick in 1997 coming out of a full, 4-year career at Wake Forest, Duncan immediately elevated the already high, David Robinson-level standard in San Antonio. RC Buford has spoken on how timely, professional, and driven Tim was the second he showed up and how it made everyone else check themselves and value the importance of the little things that impact a workplace environment. Duncan wasn’t a dominant force his entire career, he wasn’t putting up huge numbers every season, and he wasn’t the focal point of the offense every possession. He was incredible at adapting, altering his role for the overall betterment of the collective team product and as a result, his Spurs never missed the playoffs and won 5 NBA Championships, going through some of the best teams to ever do it, under his watch.
Lionel Richie is a hard guy to miss. One of the best-selling artists of all-time, Richie was one of the founding members of the funk/soul band The Commodores, who rose to fame after getting signed to Motown and opening for the Jackson 5. Their catalog includes mega-hits like “Brick House” and “Easy”, the latter co-wrote and sung by Lionel himself. Richie left the band in 1982 to pursue his solo career and found even more success, solidifying himself as one of the all-time balladeers. Hits like “All Night Long”, “Truly” and even “We Are The World” (which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson) have propelled him into the status of the Greats and set up other opportunities for him, including being a lead judge on the ABC revival of the hit singing-competition American Idol in 2017.
Lionel also raised reality-star Nicole Richie, the daughter of one of his band members, after he and his first wife informally adopted her at two years old; making it legal once she turned 9. Upon receiving the George & Ira Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 at UCLA’s Spring Sing, Lionel joked, “Forget about surviving 30 some odd years in the music business, Lionel Richie survived 27 years of Nicole Richie.”
Lionel’s unwavering consistency, kind-hearted, feel-good approach to his music, and overall positive-yet-reserved vibes are not only what has made him one of the biggest acts ever to exist, but also provides the most ridiculously-perfect soundtrack to Tim Duncan’s game that I could ever imagine. There’s so many stories of players going against Duncan and receiving in-game advice from the big man on how to make a better post-move next time down the floor… before he’d slam it on your head and knock you to the hardwood, disappearing to play defense before you ever realized what was happening.
Timmy’s patience, determination, focus, soft touch, quiet demeanor, encouraging spirit, teammate-focused mindset, fundamental driven playstyle and undeniable on-court success for nearly two decades coupled with the sweet-sangin’, groove-givin’, love-makin’, chill-achievin’ jams of Lionel Richie is a match made in heaven. It’s rare that a player is able to have the monumental impact on a franchise, and the league as a whole, with the quiet-style and selfless outlook that Tim displayed in his Hall of Fame career.
It’s also incredible how motivated one can feel to get up and dance in a party environment with the most-relaxed expression of the common phrase “raise the roof” that I’ve ever heard, yet Lionel’s gentle delivery and shining soul achieves just that. “All Night Long” is both representative of the consistency exhibited by Duncan’s on-court results while showcasing the simplistic, fluid approach that created such a successful, but incredibly fun and innocent experience. I could watch the glory days of my Spurs with the easy-breezy sonic waves of “All Night Long” just about…well…all. night. long.
Hope you find the video-evidence as entertaining and uplifting as I do.