Tim Duncan was better than Kobe.
Casuals might just look at the flashy scoring and highlights and think Kobe was better, but the truth is you have to dig in deeper to see why Duncan was actually better. Kobe definitely has more fans and a lot of them even put him in the GOAT convo (which is ridiculous) but I have a few reasons why Duncan is superior:
1) Duncan was the better teammate and more coachable.
This isn’t even debatable. Duncan never had any issues with his teammates, unlike Kobe who chased out Shaq and Dwight, and he was never called ‘uncoachable’ as Kobe was by his coach Phil Jackson. Duncan never screamed at teammates in locker rooms or called for them to be traded like Kobe did.
2) Duncan has more awards
Duncan has 2 MVPs and 3 FMVPs to Kobe’s 1 MVP and 2 FMVPs. In a vacuum this alone would indicate that Duncan had the greater career, but let me continue with other reasons.
3) Duncan was the better defender
Kobe has 12x All-Def selections, many of which are actually undeserved. This isn’t some hater point, Phil Jackson in his own book The Last Season said that Kobe was an overrated defender and was very inconsistent on defending the other team’s best player. The Lakers team defense rating was considerably worse without Shaq and Gasol on the floor and with just Kobe vs the other way around. You’ll notice that Kobe rarely shut anyone down in the playoffs. Duncan on the other hand, yes he has 15x All-Def selections, but moreover he was noticeably the better defender in all situations. Come clutch time or rim protection, Duncan was there blocking the other guy.
4) Duncan elevated his game in the playoffs
Kobe’s playoff moments exist.. but they pale in comparison to his regular season moments. Kobe has a mountain of great 50/60 point regular season games, highlighted by his 81 point explosion and his 62 points in 3 quarters. But in the playoffs, his best games are few and far between. He had some great games vs the Kings and Spurs when he was playing with Shaq, and some vs the Jazz and Nuggets when he was the leader, but overall you didn’t see as many scoring explosions from him in the playoffs. His playoffs PPG was the same as his regular season PPG at 25 PPG and his FG% decreases to a pitiful 41% in the Finals.
Duncan on the other hand, elevates his scoring from 19 PPG to 21 PPG in both the playoffs and the Finals and keeps a very efficient 48% FG% throughout. And for Kobe fans who say that Kobe had the better record vs Duncan, lets keep in mind that a lot of those wins came with Shaq as the best player on the floor, not Kobe. But Kobe must have outscored Duncan in those series right? Well… not exactly.
In the 2002 series, Duncan outscored Kobe 4–1 in the 5 game series.
What about in 2008? Well Duncan and Kobe tied in the number of games they outscored each other 2–2.
What about in 2003? Well Kobe outscored Duncan 3 games to 2 here, but Duncan ended up winning the series despite not having a single all star teammate on his team, and Kobe obviously had Shaq.
So the fact that Duncan can even keep up with Kobe in scoring is kind of surprising. I think most people would probably think that Kobe outscored Duncan every game, but this isn’t the case at all. Kobe’s scoring actually generally takes a hit in the playoffs, whereas Duncan elevates his scoring in the playoffs.
Can anyone name me Kobe’s best Finals game? Cause Duncan had a near quadruple double in Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals to close out the Nets. I don’t think Kobe has an equal Finals game to compare.
5) peak Duncan did more with less help compared to peak Kobe
2003 Duncan – without a single all star teammate on his team – took his team all the way to the NBA championship. His teammates were Stephen Jackson, a rookie Manu, a second year Tony Parker, and David Robinson right before retirement.
2006 Kobe – in the middle of his prime and also without an all star teammate – blew a 3–1 lead in the playoffs to a Suns team that was missing their second best player Amar’e Stoudemire. Now granted, every teammate except Lamar Odom was worse than Duncan’s supporting cast, but Kobe couldn’t even get past the first round and furthermore was outscored in 3 different games that series.
Kobe fans please explain to me why Kobe was outscored by Marion, Odom and Barbosa? In the middle of his prime? And his playoff high of 50 points in Game 6.. resulted in a loss.
So if these points don’t prove to people why Duncan was superior to Kobe, then I don’t know what to say. Kobe superficially if you only watched highlights seems like the better player.. but if you actually dig into each game especially in the playoffs, Duncan has consistently elevated both his game and his teammates games much more than Kobe has. It shouldn’t even be a debate, but because of all the casual fans online, it is.