The Weekly Slap: Kobe v. Timmy- Who’s The Best?
Instead of focusing attention on the current state of affairs – you know, like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James’ true Batman-Robin status (Ron laughs), Kevin Garnett looking like the 2003 Kevin Garnett or Oklahoma City making a mockery of the Lakers (Ron flips a table) – an interesting debate arose this week. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are both on the backends of iconic and sure fire first-ballot Hall of Fame careers. Yet seeing as how Kobe entered the league in 1996 and Timmy a year later, the question needs to be answered. Who ranks as the top dog of their day?
Justin: So, Ron, you’re the Kobe aficionado between us two. You’re also a basketball fan before anything else. Putting your bias to the side, Kobe or Tim? Who’s the player of their generation?
Ronald: It’s honestly hard to say. There are arguments for both sides. Kobe to me has been a top-five player in the league for more of his career than Duncan has but Duncan’s teams have had more consistent success over the long haul. The biggest issue to me is that Duncan is the third-best player on this current Spurs team, even though he’s still an impact player. Can we really leapfrog him past Kobe who has played in more finals than Duncan and been the second-best player on a three-peat and the alpha male for two others?
Justin: For me, I really cannot give a solid answer. Like you said, there are arguments that support each side. At the end of the day, I believe Kobe will get the nod mainly because his sustained period of dominance has been longer. That can be attributed to the fact he is a guard and big men’s bodies break down quicker, but that’s just calling a spade a spade. Now let me play devil’s advocate. Timmy may not be the #1 guy on the Spurs this season, but at this moment he’s playing out of his mind. Let’s say the Spurs go on to win the title – which is very, very possible – and he takes home Finals MVP – again, very possible. That would give him five rings like Kobe, but four Finals MVPs in comparison to Kobe’s two. And keep in mind, he does have two MVPs to Kobe’s one (this is a sensitive topic for Ron, folks). Does the argument change then?
Ronald: You know how much I love Bill Simmons. And he ranks Duncan as the 7th-best player ever and Kobe at no. 8. Now, time has elapsed since his Book of Basketball came out but I like to still think he believes that. But I also think that Duncan can rank as the better player while Kobe could still be the player of his generation because Kobe was a star even when the next generation came along. But giving Duncan the title for player of his generation wouldn’t be as hard for me as it may seem. The dude is the consummate professional and the most underappreciated superstar of any sport during my lifetime. Period. And keep in mind that his first title and fifth title would be 13 years apart which is a pretty crazy feat. So, to answer your question, if your scenario was to play out, the best players of this generation would be (in order): Duncan, Kobe and Shaq. Thankfully, Kevin Durant and the Thunder will make the conversation moot due to them knocking out the Lakers in the second round and the Spurs in the conference finals.
Justin: Well, this was originally supposed to be about Kobe and Tim, but we run things like a barbershop and a script never pans out as planned. All we need is that one dude who never gets any customers leaning over his chair saying, “Listen, let me tell you young boys something about basketball.” No, but seriously, I think we both agree we’re looking at OKC vs. San Antonio in the Western Conference finals. I’m not so sure the Thunder advance past the Spurs, but I can say something I normally can never say about anything involving San Antonio – it will be exciting as hell. Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook (and Westbrook’s wardrobe). Kevin Durant and our boy Captain Jack (maybe not the most even matchup, but so what?) Tim Duncan and Serge Ibaka. And quite possibly the most intriguing of them all. Manu Ginobli 1.0 and Manu Ginobli 2.0 (that being James Harden). There’s match ups all over the place.
The only reason I say OKC may fall flat on their face in the West Finals is because of one man. There is no way on God’s beautiful green Earth Scott Brooks will out coach Gregg Popovich. I think we can both agree Pop is the best coach of the past 25 years not named Phil Jackson. If that happens, Bobby Petrino wins TIME’s “Man of the Year.”
Ronald: Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we finally get the Duncan-Garnett finals matchup we’ve always wanted? If the Celtics can somehow survive the Sixers then shock the Heat, we’d get the oldest finals ever. The AARP Title, if you will. But if Duncan outplayed Garnett, it would prove his claim to the throne even more, just like if Kobe knocked out Durant and then James in the finals, though that won’t happen this year. I’m just cherishing watching our ‘drafted in the 90s’ stars play well. Duncan, Garnett, Kobe, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and the like are players we grew up with. Yes, we saw the tail end of MJ’s generation but when these guys were drafted, we truly understood what we were rooting for. But as fun as this convo is, I still think Kobe wins out if simply because I still don’t think the Spurs will win it all. If they do, this season was a waste of time.
Justin: What’s crazy is Duncan doesn’t like Garnett, at least according to his recent feature in Sports Illustrated he doesn’t. I always figured they were cordial, but apparently not. Celtics-Spurs would be a great display of how basketball should be played from a team standpoint, but sweet baby Jesus, it’d be like watching paint dry. You mention “drafted in the 90′s” stars and what’s always hard for me to grasp is that we’ve seen these guys’ entire careers. From the early years, to their primes, to the decline. Amazing stuff man, but like the Honorable Charles Barkley always notes, no one beats Father Time. If the Spurs do win this year, they are the greatest adaptors of all time. They’re like a team full of chameleons. Regular seasons, they win. Lockout seasons, they win.
Now, I need to go to South Beach and make sure everyone realizes that when Wade and Bron act up, nobody can stop the Heat.