Debating and comparing the careers of top basketball players is a practice that will never go out of style for the NBA community.
LeBron, Jordan, Magic, and Bird -- the list of basketball's top names will always be a subject for debate.
Specifically, two names came up on Monday's edition of First Take: Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. According to Stephen A. Smith, it's Duncan who had a better career than the Lakers basketball icon.
“I have to say Tim Duncan, with all due respect to my man Kobe Bryant,” said Smith. “When you consider the model of consistency that Tim Duncan was able to put forth — David Robinson has a title because of Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan is a five-time champion, as that chart just showed, just as many titles as Kobe Bryant, more NBA Finals MVPs. You’ve got to take that into consideration the fact that he is universally recognized as the greatest power forward to have ever played the game, a 10-time All-Defensive First Team player.”
Duncan certainly has a resume that backs up Smith's claim. He's got just as many Championships with more MVPs, more defensive team appearances, and more overall team success.
The question, however, is whether or not his impact is greater. Kobe could score in myriads of ways (and is much higher than Duncan on the All-Time scoring list). He was a killer and leader on the court who brought out excellence in all of his teammates. Duncan was much more reserved and seemed to have a less outspoken leadership style. Without coach Pop, Manu, and Parker, would he have had nearly the success?
On the other hand, he was a steady hand for the Spurs and helped keep the team focused on basketball and away from the dramatics that normally comes with being an NBA basketball team.
They are just two very different players and had two opposite styles of doing things. And while the case can be made for either to be higher than the other, it's likely something the community will never come to a consensus on.