Tim Duncan vs. Kobe Bryant: I’m Going with Timmy

When the NBA on TNT did its Player of the Decade survey, Kobe Bryant won with 54 percent of votes to Tim Duncan's eight percent. This is understandable, as Kobe's game is beautiful and cherished in a far bigger market. But "understandable" does not a good decision make. 

Well, that 2000-2010 decade is over, but Duncan's lauded renaissance provides a decent reminder of what we were missing during that era. We were missing the best player on basketball's best franchise.

While it is apples to oranges to compare Bryant to Duncan, it's possible to declare a preference. In dry, statistical terms, Timmy is superior to Kobe in win shares, win scores, wins produced. Bryant leads in total titles, but judging by that reductive metric would make Robert Horry a better player than Charles Barkley. 

The deciding factor for me, is defense. I don't care about Timmy's demeanor, his lack of petulance and willingness to stay in a small market. The on-court impact is all I care about.

A frontcourt player has more of a defensive impact than a guard, on account of covering more space. In his old age, Duncan can struggle in the high pick and roll, but he's still an incredible defender on the balance, and was an all-time defender in his prime. The same cannot be said of Kobe, despite all those gifted All-Defense team nominations.

So, with that in mind, Timmy is my choice in terms of career rankings. He's only augmenting my conviction in these playoffs. 

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