Tim Duncan's Legacy and the NBA Title
This has the feel of a post that gets me negged a ton, but do understand that I'm putting Tim in the arguement for the spot, not the spot itself.
Should the Spurs win the title this year, doesn't that put Tim Duncan in the discussion for the sixth best player ever? The top 5 are (in some order) Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Magic and Larry, with Wilt's lack of team success knocking him out of that, but he, Oscar Robinson, Kobe, Dr. J, Hakeem, Shaq, and West in the discussion for that sixth spot (am I missing anyone obvious?). Duncan with a fifth title matches up reasonably well with all of them.
First, barring Hakeem, he's the best defender on the list by far. He managed more team success than Hakeem, however, and carried a plenty mediocre 2002 team to the title, just as Hakeem did for his first title. 3 extra titles gives him the nudge over Hakeem, where I'm not sure 2 does. I already have both above Shaq for reasons outlined ages ago (defensive versatility, durability, effort). Shaq had a higher peak, but in my opinion, he's already below Duncan on the list.
West was incredible, but lacked the team success, as did Dr. J, unless we count the ABA, which is just an insane can of worms I can't touch. Dr. J was, however, comprable to Elgin, so I have little trouble keeping each below Duncan on the strength of defense and success.
That leaves Oscar, Kobe and Wilt, the three strongest, to me, contenders for that six spot. Wilt's game impresses me less and less the more I see of him. Everyone was just so much smaller than he was, and guys like Kareem who matched up in size ate him up, though he was old. Wilt also managed to be thoroughly dominated by his rivals, while in his career, no one's dominated Duncan for any length of time. Wilt, despite popular belief, also had great teammates, a function fo a league so small. Oscar has insane numbers, but with a game that doesn't translate to the modern NBA at all and with numbers that appear much more human once pace is normalized. He was still incredible, but with only one ring, he isn't topping Duncan there.
And then there's the Mamba. I don't think there's really a wrong answer between the 2 at this point, but I've felt Duncan did more with less. Both had Hall of Fame coaches and players around them, but Shaq, Pau, Bynum, the first two in their absolute primes, beat out an aging Robinson, Parker and Ginobli, especially given that Parker is truly just hitting his prime during Duncan's decline. Duncan is also, inarguably, the greater defensive presence. As great a wing defender as Kobe is, except in the most extreme of circumstances, a dominating defensive big tops one. Kobe is a better scorer, though, a great defender, and fully matches the team success. It's a coin flip. With the title, I'd take Duncan, but wouldn't argue someone who disagreed.
So, 5 titles, dominating defense, dominating offense, long-term success, great head-to-head numbers, clutch skills, the ability to fill multiple roles... Duncan with another ring might just be the sixth best NBA player ever.
I agree that it is either Duncan or Kobe , we had a thread on best Centers of all time and I still am not sure whether to consider Duncan a PF or C because he has and could play both since he came into the league. He just happened to play PF because he was a hair shorter and more skilled than Robinson was coming in. I heard a conversation this morning on "Dan Patrick" about an SI article that just came out and it was a write up on Duncans career to this point. Apparently a question was asked about Kevin Garnett and a story came up about a few years ago Garnett and Duncan being in an elevator at an all star game I believe and Garnett the whole time just shit talked Duncan and yelled at him. Duncan being as stoic as he is obviously didn't take the bait but , from the write up on Duncan it was pretty much put across that Duncan and Garnett strongly dislike each other. I myself like Duncan better because while Garnett is a great talent and plays unbelievably hard he comes across as not nearly as tough as he and some think he is. Since Garnett only has a tendency to get in the faces of guys like Sasha Vijacic or Tim Duncan who are physically outmatched or not the over aggressive like Duncan. You don't ever see Garnett trying to get into Z-Bo's face or Artest it's always someone he knows he can intimidate and I think that is a bit punkish. I digress , Duncan with 5 titles or 4 titles is at the very least in my eyes , the 7th best player in NBA history though I am still not sure with a 5th title he trumps Kobe. Still I love me some Timmay and with the Garnett rivalry that seems to exist I am strongly pulling for a Spurs v Celtics final now.