There is no athlete for whom my feelings have radically altered over time more than Tim Duncan. Part is him, part is me. In the old days, I disliked the twin towers style of bball played by the Spurs. I didn't care for Duncan's ugly, gangly post play.
But over time, he and the Spurs evolved as a player and team. He stayed relevant, was a great teammate, and avoided drama on the court. They played beautiful basketball the last couple years. And Duncan had grit. I'll never forget game 6 in the Miami series 2013 - the game Ray Allen hit the 3. Duncan was incredible the first half. He ended up with 30 points and 17 rebounds and was probably the best player on the court that game, despite facing Wade and LeBron at the peak of their powers and he being 37 years old. If it weren't for that Ray Allen 3, we'd be talking 6 NBA titles for the guy.
He did it his way all these years and his retirement announcement was no different. His career paralleled Kobe. They were opposites in so many respects, from how they played, to how they treated teammates and coaches, to how they grew old, to how they officially retired. Basketball fans during this era could be broken up into two types: Kobe-guys or Duncan-guys. I started as a Kobe guy, but now I'm a Duncan guy. It's no contest.