Topic: o the outside world, he is invisible.Its what passes

SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs power forward Tim Duncan spoke for the first time on Wednesday since announcing his retirement two days prior, expounding upon his 19-year NBA career and explaining why he made the decision to leave the game.I can still do this. I could probably still play, Duncan said in a wide-ranging interview with ViVid Streaming. But when its time, its time. Its time. I started not enjoying myself. It wasnt fun at times. And I always said when that point comes when its not fun anymore then Im done.As hoops fans all over the country spent Monday and Tuesday watching highlights and tributes to Duncan among the various sports television outlets, the power forward spent the day of his retirement watching the Discovery Channel. Duncans reaction seemed typical of the man of few words, who spent an entire career leading by example, while spearheading the?San Antonios current culture of?selflessness.In the days since announcing his retirement, Duncan said he received an outpouring of support from friends and family, as well as from coaches and executives around the NBA. Included among the well-wishers was?Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who despite playing with Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls, once called the power forward the greatest teammate he ever has played with.He actually sent me a message and said something along those lines, said Duncan, who won a pair of NBA titles alongside Kerr during Kerrs two stints with the Spurs. And again, Ive gotten some incredible notes, messages, from so many different people that are honestly blowing me away. I didnt expect all of this; didnt expect the reaction I got. But its been amazing. Ive spent the last two days trying to respond to everybody and trying to get back to everybody to make sure Im thankful for their messages, their words. I did actually get a personal note from Steve.Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday delivered an emotional goodbye to Duncan during a 15-minute meeting with local reporters. Duncan watched the footage of Popovichs interview on Tuesday and admitted, I about lost it on that one.Duncan also expressed appreciation for his near-universal standing as one of the NBAs all-time greats -- not just arguably the greatest power forward.I dont know how their ranking goes or anything else, and I tell people I dont really care how the rankings go. Im in the conversation, Duncan said. Im OK with that. Thats above and beyond anything I ever thought I would be. So Im in the conversation. I dont care where you rank me or what you say it is or how you want to say things go. Im in the conversation. That in itself is an honor.Having won five NBA titles with the Spurs, along with earning two NBA MVP awards in addition to making 15 All-Star Game appearances, Duncan, 40, played his final game on May 12 in the teams Game 6 loss to the?Oklahoma City Thunder?in the Western Conference semifinals.In what would be Duncans final NBA appearance, he displayed flashes of his previous All-Star form in scoring 19 points to go with five rebounds and one block in 34 minutes. Just before the fourth quarter with the Spurs trailing, Duncan asked Popovich if he could remain in the game for the final 12 minutes.As the game concluded and the confetti fell from the rafters, Duncan walked off the court in Oklahoma City waving to the crowd with one finger pointed toward the roof.Over the years, Duncan took less money in contracts from the Spurs to give the organization more ammunition to field successful teams; he explained on Wednesday that the money had not ever been a deal for me.I took a little bit less money at certain points [so] that we could stay competitive, so that we could bring players in, so that we could put pieces around, so that we could win championships, he said. Thats all it was about. I dont really care who was making what. Honest truth is I didnt really know from year to year what people were making. I think that was the best perspective to have.That approach led to championship results and back-to-back MVP awards for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.The good old days when the knees were really good, remember those days? Duncan said jokingly. At that point, I believed in what I could do. Being a competitor, I wanted it year after year after year. I remember being disappointed in the years after that, when I wasnt able to be an MVP. But thats just my competitive nature in that respect. But I believed in what I was. I didnt know that was gonna translate in ending up in five championships or anything else. But I knew that I could affect the game. I knew that I could control the game in ways. I knew how to do it.It was just about being in the right situation with the right bunch of guys and getting it done.Duncan also explained his competitive nature, which he always displayed in a stoic manner, without any hit of boisterousness.I think Ive always approached it in a different way. I think competitiveness is taken in a different way by different people, Duncan said. So Im not a yeller and a screamer, a jumper and a pusher. Im not gonna do all that stuff with my teammates or opponents. But Ive been competitive from Day 1. Whether people recognize that or not, I dont know how they cant. Im not gonna go out there and try to hurt somebody or win at all means. But if its up in the air, Im gonna try harder than you to get it done.Duncan and teammates?Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili rank as the winningest trio in NBA history in the regular season (575 wins) and postseason (126). Duncan and Popovich have combined for the most regular-season victories by any player-coach duo in NBA history (1,001). And the forward ends his career as just one of three players in league annals, along with John Stockton and Kobe Bryant, to spend 19 seasons with one franchise.Duncan said playing alongside Parker and Ginobili meant a great deal to him.We took pride in representing where we came from, took pride in being from small places, and places all around the world and being able to come together and make ourselves into a team, into a group of guys with one goal and get that done, said Duncan, who was born and raised on Saint Croix. A kid from the islands, a kid from somewhere in France, a kid from somewhere in Argentina, and we find ways to get things done. But Pop on top of that, and him having the vision to put us all together to see what we could be. You look back and thats just an amazing feat: to have all these kids from all these different places come together and be what we were.In the end, Duncan made sure to thank the San Antonio fan base for its support.Duncan is the only player in NBA history to play over 9,000 career minutes in the playoffs, and he ranks No. 1 all time in postseason double-doubles (164) and blocks (568), third in rebounds (2,859) and sixth in points (5,172). Duncan played in 251 postseason games (second all time) and averaged 20.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 37.3 minutes, in addition to shooting .501 (1,975-3,939) from the field.Just thank-you. I dont think theres anything better to say than thank-you, Duncan said. Over the years, weve been blessed. Weve been great about winning games and everything else. Weve lost some big ones, lost a couple of chances at championships. But the fans here have just been so awesome in their support and their love for the team. Everybodys always shown such appreciation and love for myself and the team. We have some of the best fans in the NBA -- in sports, in general. Im so appreciative of that. People come out, people support, people love the Spurs. Thats special. Thats not everywhere. Cheap Adidas NMD Shop .com) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to halt their longest losing streak of the season when they host the struggling New York Islanders in tonights clash at the Bell Centre. Wholesale Adidas NMD Free Shipping . McCarthy, a player who played some games in the second tier for Wigan at the start of this season, would go on to shine inside Evertons midfield, outplaying the man he was brought in to replace, on one of the grandest stages in English football. 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This story appears in ESPN The Magazines November 14 Pain Issue. Subscribe today!THE MEN WHO agree to talk about what happened do so reluctantly. Their eyes invariably drift to the spot in question: the grass practice field, somewhere near the 30-yard line, right hash. It happened with the offense heading north, 22 men on the field, no contact allowed.They wont talk about what the injury looked like, out of respect. These are men who long ago came to terms with the inhumanity of their game. They laugh about concussions and broken bones as a defense mechanism, the way an electrician might laugh with his buddies about getting a jolt from a faulty circuit. Occupational hazard.But this is different. They close their eyes and wince, the image flashing in their minds. They shake their heads reflexively, as if they can dislodge the memory and evict it from their brains. They watched Teddy Bridgewater go down on that field on Aug.?30, his left leg separating at the knee, during the first minutes of a Vikings preseason practice. Every time they think about it, every time they stand near this field and close their eyes, they see it again.INJURIES IN THE NFL are commodified, sloganized, reduced to transactions. Theyre interchangeable, disposable, devoid of pain. Theyre dehumanized, disembodied, such an expected part of the game that theyve got their own capitalized catchphrase: Next Man Up.Check the injury report, adjust your fantasy team. See how easy this is? How painless? One goes down, another pops up.I hate that exact saying -- Next man up, Vikings guard Alex Boone says. Thats f---ed up because it makes it sound like were barbarians. Like we dont care: F--- it, hes hurt, move on. Its terrible to say that. A guy gets hurt and all of a sudden everyone is like, Oh, who was that guy? In a sense, Next Man Up is an essential and ordinary part of the lexicon. In a sport with so many injuries, a coach has no choice but to rely on a cut-rate, impersonal slogan to motivate and distract. While hes telling his players to step up, team personnel are scanning the waiver wire, pulling up reports on practice-squad players and making calls on trades. Its impossible to ignore statistics like this one: In 2015, NFL players missed 1,639 games -- almost 100 per week -- because of injury. Those three words -- Next Man Up -- have become such a vital part of the culture that many players hear it with the same anesthetized indifference.Even when we watch other games, it gets lost, Vikings safety Harrison Smith says. We react the same way. Theres a human part of it that gets lost.But sometimes an event changes all that. Whether through proximity or sheer gruesomeness, the collective pain of a group of men rises up to relegate Next Man Up to a heartless cliché.It was very surreal, Boone says of Bridgewaters injury. Sometimes you forget how brutal this game can be.Minnesotas coach, Mike Zimmer, canceled practice. NFL teams never cancel practice. The game never stops. In a way, its a repudiation of Next Man Up to send everyone home -- an acknowledgment that some injuries transcend the transactional. Sometimes, even in such a brutal world, circumstances dictate that the next man cant reasonably be expected to step up, at least not right away.It happened at the beginning of practice, and obviously Coach made the right call to cancel, Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner says. We werent going to get anything done that day.At his first news conference after the injury, a still-shaken Zimmer said his team would mourn for a day and move on. If anything, this meant his players needed to recommit to the mission. No one is going to feel sorry for us, or cry, he said. Im not going to feel sorry for us either. He said hed spoken with his mentor, Bill Parcells, for advice on how to deal with the trauma his team experienced. He said he spoke with his deceased father in spirit. As he continued, the coach in him drained from his eyes. He transformed from functionary to human being, and when he was asked a question about grieving -- a question that somehow seemed utterly appropriate -- Zimmer paused and looked down. After a deep breath, he looked to the sky as his lower lip quivered. My wife passed away seven years ago, he said. It was a tough day. The sun came up the next day, the world kept spinning, people kept going to work. Thats what were going to do.HARRISON SMITH WAS running downfield with his back to the play, making sure he didnt get beaten on a deep route. Even in a practice, and a noncontact drill, thats important. Its six weeks later, and hes standing next to that field running the calculus through his head. He concludes that he must have been the person farthest from the injury. He pauses a moment to give thanks. When it happened, he heard a scream from a receiver who had turned back toward the play. It was an expletive that carried an unmistakable pitch: pain.You play this game long enough, you learn to recognize it.He must have pulled a hammy, Smith thought.Smith swung around to the receiver and saw that he was looking toward the backfield. He was reacting to someone elses pain. Smith followed his eyes to see helmets flying and teammates jumping away like the grass was on fire. He heard them screaming, and Bridgewater screaming, and he saw powerful men rendered powerless.EARLIER IN THE summer, a barbecue at Boones house. Bridgewater arrived two hours late, and Boone confronted him.Im so sorry, Boone said. The foods overcooked.Bridgewater laughed. Dude, dont worry about it. Im two hours late.No, its my fault, Boone said.Boone mocks himself now, apologizing for something that wasnt his fault. I remember thinking, Yeah, you were late. Why am I apologizing?Bridgewaters coaches, from Charlie Strong at Louisville to Zimmer in Minnesota, consider the quarterback an honorary son. The worst thing his teammates can say about him is that hes the closest thing the locker room has to a teachers pet. They laugh at the way he tends to parrot Zimmers philosophy.I swear hes the nicest guy Ive ever met in my life, Boone says. Hes a sweet guy -- and thats not a word you usually associate with football players, but he really is. His genuine sincerity toward everything is just ... youre like, Wow, hes really a good person. He never says a bad word, hes never mad.Wide receiver Adam Thielen says, Across this league, everyone has respect for Teddy, and he cites Sam Bradford as proof. Bradford texted get-well wishes to Bridgewater the day after the injury -- about the same time the Vikings front office started asking tight ends coach Pat Shurmur, once Bradfords offensive coordinator in St. Louis and Philadelphia, for a detailed scouting report on his former quarterback. Three days after that, Minnesota traded a first-round and a conditional fourth-round pick to the Eagles to turn Bradford into its Next Man Up.Nobody knows when Bridgewater will play again. The team says hell be back next year, but theres no guarantee. His knee dislocated, and the impact tore multiple ligaments connecting the patella to the tibia and fibula. When the Vikings traded for Bradford, back when nobody expected Minnesota to start the season 5-1, it was noted that Bridgewater is under team control through 2017.Everyone still loves Teddy, Bradford says. Teddys the guy. Theres no moving past Teddy. Thats just how it is, and how it should be.MATT ASIATA WAS maybe 10 yards away from the 30-yard line, right hash, when he heard a burst of noise he couldntt identify.dddddddddddd He looked back and saw Bridgewater on the ground, and saw the bodies scatter, and saw the helmets popping off his teammates heads like so many bottle caps. They all remember the scattering bodies and the flying helmets, no matter where they were. The next thing Asiata heard was the voices, all the voices, people going crazy, with Bridgewaters a few registers above the rest.Asiata couldnt quite comprehend it. He had just seen him in the huddle, had lined up behind him at running back for a play in a noncontact drill. Nobody ever gets badly hurt in a noncontact drill. Asiata listened to the screams and thought: He must be faking it. Its a prank, something Teddy thought up with the linemen. This cant be real.But the noise kept coming, and the trainers filled the void left by the scattered bodies. Asiata ran back toward Bridgewater and then veered off. He and a couple of teammates took a knee and said a prayer. They closed their eyes to pray for their teammate. They closed their eyes so they wouldnt have to see.Everything happens for a reason, Asiata says, without much conviction.YOURE PHOTOGRAPHED WALKING into a store and driving through an intersection and standing in an elevator. Theres video of you paying for gas and boarding a plane and ordering a burrito. Someone goes missing, theres always a photo from a last known location. Have you seen this person? Someone commits a crime. Help find this man.There are no available images of Bridgewaters injury. They exist, no doubt -- every NFL team records every second of practice, from the moment players begin stretching until they leave the field. And yet it seems nobody outside the organization has seen the moment Bridgewater went back to pass in a noncontact 11-on-11 drill, tripped in some fashion and landed in a way that caused his left leg to dangle in an anatomically impossible way nobody wants to talk about.What remains is an incomplete, and reluctant, oral history.It was kind of a freak deal, Thielen says. He was dropping back and got tripped up and just awkwardly stepped on his knee. Its hard to talk about. It was bad.Running back Jerick McKinnon shakes his head slowly when asked to describe what he saw that morning. He looks toward the practice field, to the 30, right hash.I saw it all, he says. I aint going to go into it. I dont have any words to describe it.Three weeks after Bridgewaters injury, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tore a meniscus in his knee during the teams Week 2 game against Green Bay, possibly ending his season. Peterson left the field with the help of trainers, partially under his own power, and the route to the locker room took him past a field-level restaurant at the Vikings slick new U.S. Bank Stadium.Those in the Delta Sky360 Club (which, in 16,455 square feet, elevates the sports bar concept to a magnificent VIP experience) were forced to witness a mans private agony. It disturbed the reverie, intruded on the fantasy that we are somehow not complicit in the games brutality. A player goes down while youre watching on TV and they cut to a commercial. When they come back, he is miraculously gone, and the attention moves to the inadequacies of his replacement.Or, in more serious cases, a player gets wheeled off, strapped to a gurney, to polite applause. Usually, the player raises a hand, maybe gives a thumbs-up, and the cheers rise with a mixture of happiness and relief. He can move, the applause says, therefore our guilt is assuaged. We understand the bargain, but wed feel really bad if someone died for our amusement.Injury reports are transmitted to fans at U.S. Bank Stadium through two huge video screens that hover above each end zone. A generic model of the human anatomy appears below a players name and number. The body rotates to create the illusion of three-dimensionality while a target circle wanders the body to create suspense -- where will it land? -- until it rests on the spot of the injury. The injured player is off somewhere, safely out of sight. Words appear:Brandon Fusco, Concussion, Will Not Return.Its the great injury game show, sponsored by Twin Cities Orthopedics.HE JUMPED AWAY, scattering with the rest of them. He thinks he threw his helmet, but his memory isnt trustworthy on this subject. Alex Boones first thought was, Holy f---, did that really happen? It felt like an electrical surge traveled up his spine, the way you feel when helplessness collides with empathy. He yelled. Everyone who was in Bridgewaters immediate vicinity yelled, and the yells emanated outward, to the linebackers and receivers and defensive backs, like echoes. The ones closest looked down and saw Bridgewaters left leg bent at an unnatural angle and let their screams mingle in the summer air, right along with his.Boones second thought was, Theres my friend. My friend is in pain. He considers this now, how the people close to the sounds and the pain didnt see it as a transaction or a line on an injury report. I didnt think, Our quarterbacks injured, he says. It was, My friend is injured. A thousand thoughts swirled through his mind. He thought about the barbecue, and how protective hed become of Teddy, on and off the field. He thought about Bridgewaters mom. It sounds crazy, but he did. His mom. Boone looked at the helmets popping off heads and spinning into the air, and he heard someone yelling to call 911, and he thought about how nobody ever calls 911 for an injury at an NFL practice, and then he looked down at Bridgewaters left leg and thought, Whos going to tell his mom?Boone saw that the human scattering served a practical purpose: It cleared a path for the trainers and first responders, the people who could do more than scream and swear and think about Bridgewaters mom. They went to work the way theyre supposed to: quickly and with expertise. The buzz up the spine, the helplessness, dissipated some. When a knee dislocates and the ligaments tear free of the bones, leaving the fibula and tibia to their own devices, the next concern is nerve damage that might lead to amputation. In the coming days, after Bridgewater undergoes extensive surgery, the Vikings trainers and the local first responders will be credited for saving his leg.The Vikings walked quietly to the locker room and gathered as a team to say a prayer.THE INJURED MAN recedes, quietly and respectfully. One minute youre the man, rounding into your prime, bonding with your receivers and fighting through overcooked meat at a linemans barbecue, and the next its Sam Bradfords time.The screams wax and wane. The injured man Dopplers in and Dopplers out.Bridgewater is around the facility, they all say. He helps Bradford understand the offense. He is upbeat, working out, still a part of the team. Perhaps his car is parked in one of the reserved for injured player spots in the team lot, not more than 50 yards from the grass practice field where everything in his life suddenly changed. His presence is mostly spectral. He is not visible when the media are allowed in the locker room, and he does not watch the games from the sideline. He has not spoken publicly. To the outside world, he is invisible.Its what passes for decorum inside a merciless culture, a way of ensuring a peaceful transition of power. It seems theres a corollary to Next Man Up: the necessary disappearance of the Last Man Down. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '

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