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    How To Teach and How To Learn

    Daily Stoic Emails

    Tim Duncan is likely the greatest power forward in the history of the NBA. Five titles. Three NBA Finals MVPs. Fifteen All-star appearances. Fifteen All-NBA Team selections. Fifteen NBA All-Defensive Team selections. The most devastating turnaround jumper off the glass that basketball has ever seen. And he did it with a selflessness and poise that is almost unmatched. 

    Almost is the operative word, of course, because Duncan was helped along on this journey to greatness by his predecessor and teammate, David Robinson. How did these two superstars connect? How did one mentor the other? Duncan, who was recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, explained

    People always ask, ‘What did he tell you? What did he show you?’ I don’t remember one thing we sat down and talked about specifically. But what he did was he was a consummate pro, he was an incredible father, he was an incredible person, and he showed me how to be a good teammate, a great person to the community, all those things. Not by sitting there and telling me how to do it, but by being that.

    The Stoics said we’re better off embodying our philosophy rather than talking about it. Marcus Aurelius actually said it was a waste of time to speculate or argue about what makes a good man, a good athlete, a good teammate. Our job, he said, was to be one. Similarly, the famous screenwriter’s maxim is “show don’t tell.” 

    And it’s this that explains the incredible culture of the San Antonio Spurs, beginning with David Robinson, who tutored Tim Duncan by example, who in turn instructed Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who in turn instructed Patty Mills—the last remaining player from that championship run—who is in turn, modeling for a team of newer, younger players. 

    This is how it goes, in sports, in life, for parents. Sure, we can talk all we want. We can have great conversations. But what matters is what we model. What matters is what we are, for ourselves and of course, for those looking up to us.