This Just In: Kobe Surpasses Duncan
Kobe Bryant has officially become the best player in the NBA, surpassing Tim Duncan on a night when the “Big Fundamental” just couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch; as youth, length, and constant double teams proved to be too much for him, whereas in years past, they were just hurdles he stepped over with his seven-foot frame.
Somewhere along the line, culminated by last night’s lost, it looks like Timmy got tripped up by those hurdles for the first time in his NBA career.
When Hakeem had his first season where his age was probably on the wrong side of the hill, he too was still anchoring a great team with more than above average production. However, it was a playoff matchup against a talented and quick Seattle Sonics team that doubled and tripled teamed the elder Olajuwon, who seemed just a tad bit slow and a little more reluctant to attack the double teams, perhaps because of a loss of confidence in his own ability.
That’s exactly what Tim Duncan looked like last night. Sure, once or twice he attacked the double team and shot over it when guards were the selected double-teamer. But he didn’t do it in the 4th quarter, when the game was on the line, and when he had proved to be just about the only Spur who score other than Tony Parker.
And that’s just not the Tim Duncan I have come to know since 1998.
Everybody on Earth will tell you that Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or LeBron James were the best player in the league if you ask them to pick the best player from a single a season over the past 6 seasons prior to this one. But the truth is, they are all wrong. Sorry to sound so conclusive on a sports argument, but in the six seasons prior to this one, dating back to the 2001-2002 season, it is Tim Duncan, and his 2-MVPs, who has been the best player. Sure, I love Shaquille O’Neal, and he was right there for those 5 years during the Lakers big time reign. But he had Kobe who was the third or forth best player in the league at the time. He also had Big Shot Bob, and when he left for the Spurs, they went on to win the championship. So I have to give the nod to Tim Duncan. He was a NBA first-teamer every year he was in the league up until this past season, and thus in my opinion he was the best player of the past six years.
That title now belongs to Kobe Bryant, who captured his first MVP this year, and who is going to the NBA Finals for the first time without Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe is 30, and he probably has at least 2, maybe 3 years, of prime basketball ahead of him before he gets on the wrong side of the hill. Much like Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Karl Malone, he’ll still be a great player and All-NBA performer even when he is past his prime. But just as Kobe came up and took what was his from Tim Duncan in last night’s Western Conference Finals, some other young whipper-snapper will come along and take the crown from Kobe. Most people think it will be LeBron James. Some King James doubters think it will be Chris Paul. Needless to say, no matter who it might be, it will be someone.
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