With his fifth NBA championship Tim Duncan cemented his position as the greatest power forward ever. He also stamped the last 15 years as the Tim Duncan era. The 1980s belonged to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird while the ’90s were punctuated by two three-peats by Michael Jordan.
The post-Jordan era has seen two of the greatest basketball players to ever play in Kobe Bryant and Duncan, but by capturing his fifth title, Duncan separated himself from Bryant. Duncan owns two regular season MVP awards and three Finals MVP awards compared to one regular season MVP and two Finals MVP awards for Bryant.
Bryant has better scoring numbers averaging 25.5 points, 4.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds, and he also has the distinction of three-peating once in his career. Bryant is the second-best shooting guard of all time, but playing with Shaquille O’Neal early in his career managed to dim Bryant’s star during his prime years.
It also didn’t help that players like Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson had some of the best individual seasons of the past 15 years. What really cements this as Duncan’s era is the relative silence with which he dominated.
Duncan has never been involved in high-profile, off-the-court issues like Bryant, and he has been able to win titles in three different decades. Bryant has played on some very bad Los Angeles Lakers teams, while Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs have been competitive every season he’s has been in the NBA. In fact, the Spurs have won at least 50 games in each of the past 15 seasons, an NBA record.
Duncan has used his 17 NBA seasons to establish greatness beyond that of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale and Kevin Garnett. As the lynch pin to a fifth championship team, Duncan left no doubt that the post-Jordan era is the Tim Duncan era.