Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki were both incredibly dominant players in their era, both in the conversation for the greatest power forward ever. Counted among the greatest players to ever play the game, Duncan and Nowitzki were both the biggest legends for their franchises, the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks respectively. Throughout their career, both became NBA champions, winning Finals MVP as well as regular-season MVP.
While Nowitzki is widely regarded as one of the most unstoppable scorers ever, Duncan had an all-around game that was unmatched, dominant on both ends of the floor. And in an interview with Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki once named Duncan as the toughest player he has faced in his career.
“To my mind, always comes Tim Duncan on my position. Before he slid over to center, he was really a power forward. He was the best power forward ever. He was so skilled… He’s a great rebounder, great defender, was really low key and I don’t think he gets talked about enough because he’s such a low-key guy and never loved the limelight.
"But between those lines, he was so tough, he was so good and there was no way you could stop him on the blocks… We had some great battles with San Antonio over the years. We had a little rivalry going there for a lot of years. And just to compete against him and see his greatness up close in the playoffs almost every year made me obviously appreciate him so much.”
Nowitzki and Duncan faced each other on a staggering 90 occasions during their career, with Duncan's team winning on 53 occasions compared to Dirk's 37. The discrepancy was much smaller in the playoffs with The Big Fundamental getting the better of Dirk only 18 times, while the German won 15 times. Considering that Nowitzki played against the likes of Shaq, Kobe and KG as well, this is high praise for Duncan indeed.