During his rookie year, Robert Swift received an in-game defensive crash course from Tim Duncan.
Tim Duncan may have just retired, but he could have a career in coaching if he wants—at least according to Robert Swift.
Chris Ballard’s Sports Illustrated story on the high school phenom and Sonics center’s long road in and out of the NBA, featured in this week’s issue of the magazine, details an on-court interaction between Duncan and Swift, then a teenage rookie.
Although Swift’s NBA career would diverge from Duncan’s, the future Hall of Famer’s surprising in-game defensive crash course left quite an impression.
Here's an excerpt from Ballard's story.
“...The first time he guards Tim Duncan, Swift pushes up on him on the block, trying to impress him.
‘Nah, nah, don’t do that,’ Duncan says.
Swift is surprised. Duncan never talks to opponents. And yet...
‘The ball’s going to swing to the other side, get position,’ Duncan continues.
The ball swings. Swift follows orders, shuffling his feet across the lane, staying behind Duncan.
‘No, further up,’ Duncan says. Swift takes a half-step.
‘No, a little higher, don’t let me duck in on you.’
‘All right, now come back,’ Duncan says, moving across the lane. ‘The ball’s about to be swung back, but it’s not coming to me this time so don’t worry about it. But now you know how to play it.’
With that, Duncan plays hard the rest of the game, but the moment sticks with Swift. He hopes to be that kind of veteran some day.”
Read the entire story, on Swift’s journey from millionaire to junkie, in this week's Sports Illustrated.