I know, I know. Everyone knows Duncan as the greatest PF of all time so how could he be underrated? But do the media and fans really appreciate his greatness?
This recent Bill Simmons tribute to Duncan had me thinking that Duncan is often not thought of as a top 10 player in NBA history but guys like Shaq and Kobe are.
It's an interesting discussion because I feel like a lot of his accomplishments get overlooked because of his unassuming nature and the fact that he doesn't have a Type A personality like Shaq and Kobe.
I personally think he should be ahead of Shaq in the pantheon of NBA greats and really has a good case to be ahead of Kobe too especially if he wins his 5th ring. His mixture of on the court and off the court greatness will likely never be replicated again and should be the example young ballers emulate.
I know that off the court stuff usually doesn't get factored in when making these types of lists, but I think it should because it is a big factor in how you impacted the game.
Since the Celtics aren't in the Finals, I don't have a dog in the fight between the Heat and Spurs. Usually in these types of situations, I root for whatever scenario would be the most impactful on NBA history because I'm a basketball fan first and foremost and I want to see greatness happen. That's why I only wanted the Heat to win last year IF Lebron was the dominant player in the Finals that we always wanted.
This year I'm kind of confused as to which team to root for because either team winning will make a great story: Lebron adding to his legacy in his climb up the HOF ladder, or Tim Duncan (possibly) retiring as a champion as he should.
I look at it like this. Lebron has the next 10+ years to climb up the HOF ladder and cement his legacy. I would love to see TImmy win his 5th ring at the end of his career and proves that there is an underrated quality for any Superteam, Big 3 or Dynasty: Longevity.
Duncan > Kobe or Shaq IMO. I've always felt that Duncan was the best player of that generation that came between MJ and LeBron.
I don't think the media or the fans as a whole truly appreciate Tim Duncan and the Spurs greatness. The things Duncan has been able to accomplish has been phenomenal and the fact he's still doing it at 37 should only add to his greatness.
I was talking to some of my friends about this too. I do think he is underrated when it comes to the all time list. I think if he wins his 5th, He should be considered a top 10 player ever. He is ranked 22nd all time in scoring. 13th in total rebounds, 17th in field goals made and 8th on the all time leaders in blocks list. Also add him being a two time MVP and a three time finals MVP as well. I don't know about him being ranked above Shaq though but it can be debatable looking at his overall body of work. But I think he could be 9th or 10th on the all time list. Most people list are pretty much the same anyway with Jordan usually being the consensus number one. Anybody after that can be debatable honestly. Especially the 5-10 range. If he wins he will have 5 rings. Which is more than Shaq and tied with Kobe in terms of most rings by a current NBA player. He doesn't "wow" you with his play. But you have to admire and respect his greatness. I actually hope Duncan wins and goes out like Ray Lewis. Plus Tim Duncan is undefeated in the Finals so he has a good chance to do it.
If Duncan wins a ring:
5. Bill Russell
6. Tim Duncan
7. Larry Bird
9. LeBron James
10. Oscar Robertson
Just missed: Kobe, Jerry West, Hakeem
If LeBron wins a title I could see LeBron moving ahead of Shaq and Bird, and possibly even Tim Duncan.
Winning the second title in a row with a 66 win season and a 27 game winning streak has to move LeBron up the charts.
With Duncan getting back to the Finals you have to consider him as the fourth best big man ever behind Wilt, Kareem, and Russell. 5 rings would make that more evident. He also looks like a guy who can play into his early forties at least. If he gets to six rings, I think he could move ahead of Bill Russell. While 11 titles in 13 runs is the greatest championship run in NBA history, Duncan's run with the Spurs might be the most intriguing. I don't think Duncan can pass Kareem. Even if he matches Kareem's total of 10 rings, he is nowhere near the 6 MVP record, and his point total is far below that of Kareem's. 5 titles since 1999 and a perfect five for five in the Finals, plus having a good team coming back next year could seriously put Tim Duncan into discussion as one of the top three big men ever. I think a back to back title run could help too. And, I think the Spurs could pull it off next year if they can win it this year.
If LeBron wins the title then you have to put this season with 66 wins and a 27 game winning streak up there with any team with the possible exception of the 33 game streak for the Lakers and the 72 win Bulls team. Top three regular season team of all time PLUS a title would be something else. And those two other teams didn't come on a title defense like this one has. A second title would put LeBron ahead of Bird, Shaq too possibly. Shaq had a great run in his prime, but LeBron's last 5 years have been epic, and his entire 10 year career has been one of sustained brilliance.
After this NBA Finals, possibly the only guys ahead of LeBron and Duncan will be Jordan, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, and Russell. And, conceivably, these two current greats could even pass some of these other guys.
A title this year and then a successful title defense next year would give Duncan six rings since 1999. One of the best runs ever, and the longest run of dominance in NBA history. This would put him into Bill Russell territory. It would also put him into Kareem territory -- especially if Duncan ends up playing 22 or 23 years.
LeBron can pass some more guys on this list, but he really needs to win the title this year. 66 wins with 27 straight wouldn't look as good without a ring. With a ring, LeBron's legacy is in great shape 10 years in. I think another title next year for the threepeat, possibly another MVP award and a first DPOY award would put LeBron in Magic's company as the non-big ever not named Michael Jordan. However, if LeBron fails to win a title this year, then he will have only one ring going into his 11th season and that would put him behind the 8 ball in his quest to pass Magic and try to reach Jordan as GOAT.
How do you leave Hakeem 'The Dream' out of the top 10?
IMO he was twice the Center Shaq was. Skill-wise
If Duncan wins a 5th ring this season and is a big reason for it, then he most def becomes a top 5 player of all time imo. However, if they lose this year then I'd still have Kobe ranked higher. When I was younger I didn't really appreciate Tim Duncan like a do right now. He's such a great all-around player and is one of the best teammates/leaders of all time as well.
PS. Hopefully Miami advances to the Finals. I really think that a Heat-Spurs series would be so much fun to watch. Two well oiled offensive machines decking it out in a 7 game series. I'm giddy
Duncan's game is no splash(wow factor) but all skill+efficiency. I myself don't like watching Duncan play even though I understand how amazing he has been over his tenure. We, myself included don't appreciate how a game can be dominated in such non-flashy way? The man just gets the job done...dude is criminally underrated and so under appreciated by basketball fans and media....me being the #1 culprit.
My All-Time Starting Five
Tim Duncan is the perfect example of a player who has achieved greatness without the flash and flair that most players require, which makes me respect him that much more. I agree with an above post that said he is the best player of the generation between MJ and LeBron too. How many guys can put up these numbers at the age of 36 while playing for the Western Conference champs?
17.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.7 bpg
Any true basketball fan doesn't underrate Duncan. He is the best PF of all-time, and at the very least a top 12 player ever.
My top five would be:
I may just be a diehard Dream fan, but I think he's the best Center of all-time
I love Hakeem as well, but I couldn't justify putting him over Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell.
Is Tim Duncan about to hijack the tittle of the best player of his generation from Kobe? I say yes. The fact that all of his titles especially if he wins this one are so spread out is amazing to me.
Tim Duncan is an all time great, HOF lock as soon as he is eligible, certainly one of the greatest frontcourters ever regardless of whether he actually plays PF or C.
Plus having never lost in an NBA Final, the Spurs can approach it with confidence and have a vital rest period knowing that the pressure is perhaps more on Miami.
TD getting five will be cool. Also, getting two against LeBron will be amazing.
Nobody got one on Jordan. Bird got one against with Magic getting two against Bird.
5 titles since 1999 would be great. If he could repeat next year (which I think is possible) then
you could have him up there with Kareem even, if Duncan plays into his forties.
Let me start by saying I think Tim Duncan is hands down the best PF of all time, and one of the most underrated players of this generation... Would I put him in the top five of all-time though??? No. Here is why I wouldn't put him ahead of these following players...
Michael Jordan - G.O.AT. You know the story...
Bill Russell - 11 Rings in a 13 year playing career. Holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league.
Magic Johnson - One of the very few players in history capable of playing all five positions at a high level. Most Playoff Triple-Doubles ever. 5x Champ. 3x Finals MVP.
Wilt Chamberlain - Only player EVER to lead the league in Scoring, Rebounding, and ASSISTS in a season at some point throughout their career. Would have led the league in Blocks numerous seasons if the statistic was being recorded.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - NBA All-Time leading scorer. The "Sky Hook" is still the most unstoppable one on one move of all time. 6x champ. 2x Finals MVP.
Larry Bird - He of the career 24-10-6-2 statline. His average athleticism and physical attributes only make his impact that much more impressive.
Tim Duncan is arguably Top 10 undoubtedly. I personally just can't put him infront of any of the aforementioned players.
Nyflava makes some very good points as any all time top 5 will be subjective even if nearly everyone will have MJ and Wilt in it. Even Magic, Bill Russell and Kareem can be subjective as we have to consider Hakeem, Tim Duncan and Bird to name but 3. Throw in LeBron, Kobe and Shaq and there are 11 names trying to fit into a top 10 let alone a top 5 plus with loads more to consider.