Greatest Players in NBA History: Tim Duncan

In this section of the Lab I pick one of the top players in NBA history as voted on in this project and discuss some of his career accomplishments…in other words, what made him so great that he deserves a spot among the greatest?  This week’s player is Tim Duncan, who is on the short list of best players ever despite the fact that he doesn’t get nearly as much mention as he should.  Duncan’s case, as you might expect, is based on very simple, fundamental reasoning.

1. Since the inception of the award in 1969, Duncan is tied for the second most Finals MVPs in history with three, behind only Michael Jordan (tied with Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal). 

2. Duncan is one of only five players in NBA history with multiple MVP and multiple Finals MVP awards.  The other four are named Jordan, Magic, Kareem and Bird (Russell, Wilt, and George
Mikan would also be on the list if the Finals MVP existed over their entire careers).

3. Duncan has been named to the All NBA First Team nine times in his career (13 times All-NBA, and has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First team eight times (13 times All-Defense).  Only Jordan (18) has more combined first teams than Duncan's 17.

4. Duncan is a member of the 21,000 point, 12,000 rebound, 3000 assist, 2300 blocked shot club.  The only other known members are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Hakeem Olajuwon (and if you set that assists threshold at 3200 it would knock Hakeem off the list).

On the message boards, there is a tendency to group together 6 players: Jordan, Magic, Bird, Wilt, Russell and Kareem into what has become known as the "Immortal 6", six players that are acknowledged on the boards as the best in history bar-none in some order.  I loathe this convention with all of my being, because there is no real way to directly compare players across multiple eras as though it were fact.  In other words, in my opinion, there are tiers of great players and if a player reaches the highest tier in his own generation he can legitimately be compared and/or ranked with the best of any other generation.  As such, in my opinion Duncan deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with anyone who has ever played.  He may be boring and fundamental, but he was also that good.

What is your opinion?


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