John Clay

Notes: Tim Duncan was one of the best and most understated

In this Feb. 28, 2015, file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, left, and head coach Gregg Popovich chat on the bench during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix. They were joined at the hip for 19 years, a player and coach combination that enjoyed more wins than any in NBA history.
In this Feb. 28, 2015, file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, left, and head coach Gregg Popovich chat on the bench during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix. They were joined at the hip for 19 years, a player and coach combination that enjoyed more wins than any in NBA history. Associated Press

Random notes:

▪ All hail “The Big Fundamental.”

Tim Duncan announced his retirement from the NBA on Monday in perfect Tim Duncan manner. There was a press release. No press conference. No farewell tour. No glitz, glamor or fanfare. No fuss.

A native of the Virgin Islands, Duncan did give an hourlong interview to a Caribbean radio personality on Wednesday, but so far that’s been about it.

Such understatement is the endearing thing about Duncan, who was undoubtedly one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. He was twice the league’s MVP on the way to helping San Antonio to five NBA titles. He was one of only two players to win championships in three different decades.

I remember being among the group that interviewed Duncan, then star center at Wake Forest, before the Demon Deacons played Kentucky in the Midwest Region finals in Minnesota in 1996. (Duncan had 14 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in a losing cause.) You could tell then Duncan was different. He was smart and thoughtful, but he had no real interest in promoting or talking about himself.

Instead, as he told ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, “I’m just a basketball player. I play the game. I go home.”

How refreshing.

▪ It was interesting that Mark Stoops chose Courtney Love as one of three players to represent Kentucky at SEC Football Media Days. A transfer from Nebraska, Love has yet to play a down for the Cats. He has been highly praised for his leadership, and Stoops has made no secret he is looking for leadership on this team.

▪ Pro Football Focus chose senior center Jon Toth as Kentucky’s best returning player. According to its film study, Toth allowed just one sack, three hits on the quarterback and four hurries in 2015. Those are impressive numbers.

▪ Name to watch on the Kentucky football schedule: New Mexico State running back Larry Rose III. He has rushed for more than 1,000 yards each of his first two seasons, including 1,651 yards last season. Coached by former UK quarterback Doug Martin, Rose was the Sun Belt Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year last season. UK plays the Aggies on Sept. 17 at Commonwealth Stadium.

Top 5 running backs Kentucky will face in 2016

▪ Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game continues to struggle in the television ratings. Its overnight rating of 6.4 for this year’s game in San Diego was down 18 percent from last year’s game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

▪ Speaking of the All-Star Game, a neat touch involved Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy. As a promotion for Stand Up To Cancer, players, coaches and umpires held up a card with the name of someone they knew who was battling or had battled cancer. Murphy’s card was for Sandy Alderson, general manager of the Mets, who let Murphy go as a free agent after last season.

▪ Now that his request for a new hearing has been denied, Tom Brady’s first home game for the New England Patriots will be against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 16. That is if Brady doesn’t try to push his case to the Supreme Court.

▪ NBA Summer League stat: Former UK point guard Tyler Ulis made 14 steals in three games.

▪ Glad to hear that Executive Director Bill Hancock told the media at the SEC Football Media Days that the College Football Playoff will look at moving off of the New Year’s Eve date for future national semifinals. As last year showed, it’s a bad night for people to stay home and watch football.

▪ Texas A&M star Myles Garrett says he has a personal goal of 20 sacks this season. Last season, Kentucky had 17 sacks as a team.

▪ Forbes has now rated the Dallas Cowboys as the most valuable franchise in all of sports. Just think of what the Cowboys would be worth it they had actually won anything lately.

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