Lakerholicz.com Discussion: Kobe or Duncan?

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers

As the 37-year-old Tim Duncan is just one win away from his fifth NBA title, the following question has frequently been raised in recent times: Kobe or Duncan?

If Duncan wins his fifth ring, he’ll tie Kobe Bryant in the championship department.

LeBron James recently said that he thinks Duncan is “the most consistent, most dominant” player of the last 15 years, while Robert Horry – a man with seven rings of his own – said even if Duncan wins that fifth ring, he’s still taking Kobe.

So, what do a few of the Lakerholicz.com writers think? Are they taking Kobe or Duncan? We asked them for their thoughts on this subject for the first ever Lakerholicz.com Discussion.

Ahmed Quintana: KOBE

I have to go with Kobe Bean Bryant.

Besides the fact that I grew up watching him dominate, his five titles speak volumes. Duncan is only behind one, and could possibly get it this year, but look at where Kobe won these titles – in Los Angeles. Obviously playing in such a big market helps his brand and have more people recognize the accomplishments, but that’s also a double-sided sword. The pressure of playing for a franchise like the Lakers is astonishing, and to be able to handle that and play at such a high level is admirable. At no time was Kobe scared to be here, and his career goes on to show it.

Also, if we compare statistics, as well as impact on a game, Kobe had more impact. There’s a reason why Kobe is still being compared with LeBron James for who is the best player (right now it’s LBJ, but crazy to think that Kobe is still playing at such a high level), and has always been compared to the great Michael Jordan. Both players are great, and have been the best at their positions for virtually their entire career.

When it comes to who I take after judging everything, I think Kobe is ahead of Duncan, but not by a landslide like some might say.

PS: if other’s argument for Duncan being better is Kobe had more help and didn’t do the heavy lifting, do the names David Robinson, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker ring a bell? All superstars have help.

Yorick Hempstead: Duncan

My vote is for Tim Duncan, because he played the game the right way from the start. He has had a high-level of longevity and has successfully reinvented himself like Kobe, but Tim was and will always be one of the greatest teammates since Bill Russell.

I would never choose Tim over Kobe in an all-time fantasy draft, but unlike Kobe, he is a starter on my all-time starting five. Hardware aside (Tim has plenty of trophies, mind you), I just appreciate how he plays the game from the neck-up. Like Larry Bird, Duncan’s career stat-line displays his great efficiency and incredible IQ. Duncan also never got on ESPN radio, talking about he wanted to leave his team either. I just forgave Kobe for that situation (talk about holding a grudge).

To be honest, 2007 made me appreciate players who were great, yet played primarily within the team’s concept. I love Kobe’s heart and killer instinct, but Duncan is a coach’s dream. There’s no diva moves happening in San Antonio. Our franchise is more successful, but the Spurs have a system that relies on fundamentals and intangibles, every basketball purist loves. Kobe’s biggest issue is a double edged sword. He an assassin, that is willing to die on the court; unfortunately, the team often loses sight of the bigger picture in the process.

Kobe watched MJ and remixed his game to his liking. Duncan & KG did the same with Karl Malone. Duncan did it best. *drops mic*

Deshaun Sheppard: Kobe

Let me first start off by stating that Tim Duncan is arguably the greatest power forward of all-time and I do not want to take anything away from his legacy or greatness, but Kobe Bryant is the best player of his generation.

Without debating from a skill aspect, since a shooting guard obviously can’t be compared to a power forward, Kobe’s career accomplishments are far more superior to Duncan’s. If you want to argue stats, Duncan only exceeds Kobe in rebounds and shooting percentage, which is natural when comparing any power forward to any shooting guard.

In the past 15 years, Kobe has surpassed many of the greatest players of all-time in numerous statistical categories, like becoming the 4th highest scorer in NBA history. He has also done far more memorable things than Duncan like score 81 points in one game or hit classic game winner after game winner.

We can also break down LeBron’s argument, which was Tim Duncan is the most dominant player over the last 15 years. Here’s his reasoning:

[pullquote]“If I just look at the last 15 years, he’s probably been the most consistent, most dominant player that we’ve had as far as 15 years all together. He’s won four titles, multiple All Stars, MVP, and so on and so on.”[/pullquote]

Well LeBron, Kobe made it to the finals four out of five years and then another three straight years all within the past decade. That’s a total of seven NBA Finals appearances in ten years. He’s also won five titles. He’s had fifteen all-star appearances which is 2nd in NBA history. In fifteen of those all-star appearances, he won four all-star MVPs which is tied for first in NBA history, and so on and so on.

Kobe Bryant is getting up there in age right along with Tim Duncan, but is still performing at a higher level than younger players who are believed to be the best in the NBA. Through his current battle with father time, none of his usual statistics (like scoring) have declined at all while Duncan has gone from averaging 25 points per game to 17.

Another aspect to view the argument from is the Spurs vs Lakers playoff record when both Duncan and Kobe are playing. Kobe currently leads that battle 4 to 2.

Duncan has accomplished many great things in his career and I personally believe that he is the most skilled big man to ever play this game, but his legacy just doesn’t measure up to that of Kobe’s.

That’s the opinion of our writers. Now, what do you guys think? Leave your comments below.

This was a Lakerholicz.com Discussion featuring various writers from our website. You can follow the writers featured in this discussion on Twitter: Ahmed Quintana @alqj24 – Yorick Hempstead @HempsteadHuddle – Deshaun Sheppard @WOLF_CHUKI

Written by Ross Pickering

Ross Pickering is the founder of Lakerholicz.com. He's here to bring you daily updates on your Los Angeles Lakers, despite living 5,485 miles away from L.A. in England. You can follow him on Twitter: @RossPickering