This can most readily be filed under “yeah, right,” but a tweet showing Anthony Davis hitting a three with the caption “Tim Duncan not doing this” is being considered a thrown gauntlet on the social media platform.
A quick read of any of the thousand responses show pretty quickly that this was not a popular opinion.
Many argue that Tim’s five championships outshine The Brow’s lone ring. Even deeper, many believe Davis would still be without a title had he not paired up with LeBron James in Los Angeles last season.
Either way, these discussions are always opinion-based and there is no clear-cut answer.
Or is there?
Another one of these who is better “debates?” I can’t believe this folks. It’s Tim Duncan. No disrespect to others. But it’s sort of a slam dunk. Goodnight.— Dan Rather (@DanRather) December 21, 2020
In a response tweet from Dan Rather, the journalist dismisses the premise, which is appropriate given Duncan and Davis aren’t even in the same tier of talent.
This isn’t defense of The Big Fundamental or a homer backing his team, the discussion is truly limited to a very elite and small group of revolutionary players.
Tim Duncan is one of these elite players whose talent was immense enough to build around him a sustainable championship team. The talent wasn’t limited to a specific time and proved evolutionary as the NBA changed.
That is top tier.
The term “superstar” gets thrown around these days in relation to players who win MVP, players who break records, and players who get paid top dollar.
But a true superstar is a rare occurrence in the NBA. A transcendent player comes along once in an era.
And of those players, Duncan is often overlooked because he was not flashy, he played for a “boring” franchise, and his coach emphasized defense over three-point shooting.
His talent won championships but didn’t impress fans of explosive, high-energy, highlight reel basketball.
Currently, LeBron James is the only top tier superstar in the league. He is the only player whose game remains competitive throughout years of changes across the NBA landscape. He remains an anchor for any team who hopes to win it all. And he is a force on the court.
The rest of the NBA is filled with greatness at varying levels, but none reaching James’ magnitude. A quick look at the last 20 years of MVPs shows that some of the best the NBA has to offer were only good in their time, and some even for a short time at that.
Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are two of the most elite of the last decade, but couldn’t succeed without one another. (And yes, I know Curry won without Durant in 2015, but a hobbled Cavaliers team came back full strength and proved 2015 a fluke.)
James Harden is a former MVP, three-time scoring champion, and one of the most difficult players to defend and he still can’t get over the hump. Even pairing him with 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook didn’t yield great results.
Kawhi Leonard had the opportunity to become a top tier player, but that has ship sailed.
Giannis Antetokounmpo could be in that league, but the window on his ability to take a team to the Finals is closing.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all great players in their own right that any team would love to have as part of their franchise. But their talent is limited. In many cases bound by time and place. In other cases the limit is the player’s own ambition.
Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter of all time, but his career would have been sidelined by injuries (even more so that it has) had he ever had to play against the late 80s/early 90s Detroit Pistons.
James Harden spent his offseason being inspired by Damon Wayans’ portrayal of James “The Grim Reaper” Roper. Not exactly the behavior and discipline of a player whose game defines and shapes the NBA.
Some guys don’t have the leadership, some don’t have the drive, some don’t have the talent, some can’t adjust to the game when it is not going their way.
Tim Duncan could do all. Nineteen years of relevance, playoffs every season, five championships, and over one thousand regular season wins.
It’s not a viable question. No disrespect to Anthony Davis. The discussion cannot be argued for any second tier NBA player.
It’s like comparing apples to to a five-course meal.
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