One roll of the basketball, and this would be a short article. In an epic Game 7 last Thursday, Tim Duncan had the ball in the post for his San Antonio Spurs, staring elimination in the face. Time was running out–48 seconds to be exact–and the team’s all-time franchise player made his move to the center of the key, and attempted a right hook shot over the 6’8″ Shane Battier that would tie the game. This shot was the very same one he’d make 99 out of 100 times, maybe even 999 out of 1,000 times. But that night, that one odd number seemed to rear its ugly head. The shot rolled off the back iron, into the outstretched fingertips of Duncan, who managed to tip the ball back towards the hoop…another maneuver that’s defined his long career of dominant offensive rebounding. But if the original miss was a 1 out of 1,000 chance, the second shot double downed on bad luck.
The ball popped wide over the rim, and Chris Bosh secured the rebound. Seconds later, LeBron James nailed a 19-foot jumper over Kawhi Leonard, and it was all over. Had Duncan’s shot simply gone in moments earlier, the Spurs would have tied Game 7 with two possessions left on the clock. The possibilities were endless…including sealing the argument of who the best player of his generation was. It would have been Tim Duncan. And it wouldn’t have been close.
But thanks to that fateful roll, the debate is still wide open. With Tim Duncan performing so admirably on basketball’s highest stage at the age of 37 and Kobe Bryant dragging a lifeless Lakers team to the playoffs this past season, the discussion is just as relevant as ever.
Poring over the awards, statistics and team records, these two have some of the most sparkling resumes of all time. Their accomplishments are massive no matter who you look at, and should no doubt result in a top-10 standing in NBA history for both men. In fact, the tale of the tape is so close here that I’m tempted to call it a tie.
But this isn’t soccer. This is basketball. We don’t do ties.
So, whose career has been greater? Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan? Let’s break it down piece by piece.
(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll!)