Stephen A. Smith claims Tim Duncan had a better career than Kobe Bryant
Now that the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 has been announced, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith took to comparing two of the best NBA players of this remarkable class.
Smith said Tim Duncan had a better all-around carer than Kobe Bryant, as the two will soon be enshrined as Hall of Famers along with Kevin Garnett:
“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.”
Smith is clearly looking only at the accolades at hand when comparing the two players. While Bryant had a more compelling NBA story — being drafted 13th by the Hornets, traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, playing with and without Shaquille O’ Neal, etc. — Duncan was a powerhouse player who achieved just as much, if not more than Bryant.
Smith’s counterpart Max Kellerman played devil’s advocate, as usual:
“I have to go Kobe Bryant. Charles Barkley’s right. Kobe Bryant is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to Michael Jordan,” said Kellerman. “…One of the reasons (the Lakers) were perceived the way they were, the primary reason, is Kobe was perceived as the best player in the game. And by the way, Tim Duncan was in the game back then, and in his prime.”
Duncan also stripped Bryant’s Lakers of two titles, taking them down in 1999 and 2003, which made for a not-so-fun Lakers vs. Spurs rivalry. Before the Lakers won three straight titles, it was the Spurs winning it all in 1999, and later shutting their chance at four straight titles in 2003.
Arguments can be made for either player, but what is indisputable is how these two players are deserving of their own place in the Hall of Fame.