Who Is the Better Player of This Generation, Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan?

By Eric N. Ellington
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the better player between Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan? Both made the First Team All-NBA team this year. At 34 and 37 receptively, both players improved their numbers from last season.

This debate has gotten some attention, especially since Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs are headed to the NBA Finals, and Duncan has a chance to match Kobe and capture a fifth NBA title.

Since 1997-98, every All-NBA and All-Star team has  featured either Bryant or Duncan. Kobe has won two Finals MVPs, while Duncan has won three. They both have played for the same team their entire career, a rare feat these days. While Kobe didn’t win Rookie of the Year honors like Duncan, they both made their NBA All-Rookie teams.

As gifted as the duo is offensively, both players can certainly play some defense. Both have been on a All-NBA Defensive team since 2000.

Since 1999, only five titles have been won by teams that weren’t the Los Angeles Lakers or Spurs and two of those times, the Lakers were still in the NBA finals, and lost to the eventual champions (2004, 2008). Bryant and Duncan have won nine titles in 13 years, and in an era with mass free-agency and trades, that is an astonishing feat.

In Olympic competition, Kobe Bryant won two gold models (2008, 2012), while Duncan captured a bronze in 2004.

Bryant and Duncan are models of excellence, professionalism and elite play. Since entering the league, I cannot think of any player that has played at the level they have exhibited. These two great players will go down as the best players of their generation, hands down.


Eric N. Ellington covers the Los Angeles Lakers for Rant Sports. Follow him at @EricNEllington

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