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The Oral History of Tim Duncan — As Told by Tim Duncan’s Clothes

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Tim Duncan, one of the greatest players of all time and the greatest power forward ever, retired Monday, ending a storied career spanning 19 years, five NBA titles, three Finals MVPs, and two MVP awards. As commanding as Duncan was, though, he didn’t do it alone. He had great teammates, a great coach, a great organization, and great articles of clothing. I spoke to some notable pieces of menswear from Tim’s illustrious career to get their unique perspectives on Duncan, the era he helped shape, and why you can never have too many X’s in front of the XL.

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Beige Draft Suit: What’s funny is, I had never heard of Tim Duncan before the draft. Not a basketball fan. Which, of course, people are always joking with me about because I’m a size XXXXXXXXL suit with a 40-plus-inch inseam in the trousers, so people are like “Well, who did you think would wear you?” I like college football. Roll Tide. But that’s what they call irony, I guess. Hey, you know what’s ironic? Tim never ironing me. Not once. Anyway, draft night, 1997. Fun night. I remember this picture well.

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Light-Gray Old Navy Cargo Shorts: Wow, I haven’t thought about this day in a long time. This is from the celebration along the River Walk after Tim’s first title. Tim and I actually had a huge argument right before this. Well, really it was just me screaming at him. Which is pretty out of character for me. Over where to put his cell phone. I saw what he was going to do, and I was like, “Dude, I’m fucking cargo shorts. CARGO SHORTS. How are you gonna wear me, then not put your phone in one of my 25 pockets, bro?” And Tim just kinda rolled his eyes, you know how he does, and, pop, clipped that Nokia 8110 right to my waistband. You know, he got that phone because it’s the one Neo uses in The Matrix. [Sighs.] Sorry, I still get upset about this. You know, like, my whole purpose on this planet is I have a million pockets. That’s why I was made. Whatever. Couple of months later, I got stained while he was playing paintball and that’s the last time he wore me.

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Tan Shadow-Striped Shirt: This is from Saturday night at the 2006 All-Star Game. Nate Robinson won the Slam Dunk Contest. When you’re sitting in a pitch-black, packed shipping container in some dead-ass warehouse in China, you don’t even dream of being bought by an NBA player right off the rack and ending up at the All-Star Game. I was psyched. Houston! The NBA All-Star weekend with Jamie Foxx performing at the Players Association party! Maybe Beyoncé will be there and spill a drink on me! We could run into Kobe! Kobe was my favorite player. Honestly, I always kind of saw myself on Bryant — nothing against Tim. I know I’m way too large, but, with some tailoring … Anyway. Like I was saying, I was super-excited. And, what happens? This dude leaves 30 minutes into the 3-point competition because he wanted to “beat the traffic.” Can you believe this dude? I watched the slam dunk competition thrown over the back of a chair in the hotel room as Tim fell asleep reading comic books.

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XXXXXXXXL Blue Striped Shirt: This was the 2009 playoffs, I believe.

Nautica Big Easy XXL Jeans: Mmm. I don’t know.

XXXXXXXXL Blue Striped Shirt: Yeah. Look, that’s Fabricio Oberto in the background. Had to be right around 2008, 2009.

Nautica Big Easy XXL: I hated Oberto. What an asshole.

XXXXXXXXL Blue Striped Shirt: Tell me about it.

Nautica Big Easy XXL Jeans: Guy always carried himself like because he played in Europe, you know, he’s too good or whatever to wear pants th —

XXXXXXXXL Blue Striped Shirt: (Oberto accent) Trrrrrouserrrrs!

Nautica Big Easy XXL Jeans: I’m sorry, trousers, too good to wear TRRRRROUSERRRRS unless the fit was, like, tight enough to see if you’re circumcised.

XXXXXXXXL Blue Striped Shirt: That’s how they dress in Europe, though.

Nautica Big Easy XXL Jeans: Yeah, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it. “Teeeem, be careful you not drrrowning in your shirt, we have game tonight! Teeeem, your trrrrouserrs are bigger than my garage! Teeeem, your trrrrouserrs look like a sweatshop where they make other cheap shirts. Teeeem, you look like you coming from heroin smuggler’s prom. That shirt looks like a midlife crisis crossed with Atlantic City.”