Tuesday, May 28, 2013

If Spurs Win Title ... Was This The Kobe Era or Duncan Era???

*Full disclosure: I've been a Laker fan since the early 1980s when Showtime took the league by storm. 

On Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs swept the Memphis Grizzlies and will head to their fifth NBA Finals.  There they will meet the winner of the Miami-Indiana series.  If the Spurs win that, it will be their fifth title since 1999.  Only the Los Angeles Lakers have won that many during that span.

If the San Antonio Spurs win their fifth NBA Championship ... does Tim Duncan have a better grasp of the "Player Of His Time" as Kobe Bryant does?  I mean, during Kobe's career, he has five rings.  As far as superstars go, Tim Duncan has four as did Shaquille O'Neal.  Kobe's status and amount of rings gives him the belief that the 1996-2013 timeline is his era.  A fifth ring for Duncan, however, could mean that he has a right to claim that thrown.

But can he claim it?

Well, let's look at this era.  From 1999-2013 (this would be under the assumption that the Spurs win the 2013 championship which would be a bit of an upset.  But let's assume it for this argument), the Lakers and Spurs combined to win 10 of the 15 championships.  Only the Pistons (2004), Heat (2006, 2012), Celtics (2008) and Mavericks (2011) have won titles in this Spurs/Lakers era. 

Heck, if you realize the fact that these two are in the same conference, these two have represented the West in 12 of the last 15 NBA Finals.  Kobe's Lakers have gotten to seven Finals and Duncan's Spurs have reached five.  Only the Mavericks (2006, 2011) and Thunder (2012) have broken through these two juggernauts. 

That's something.

So how do you determine if this was the Kobe Era or the Timmy Era?  Well, Duncan was the Finals MVP three times.  Kobe just twice.  Tony Parker won the Finals MVP award for the Spurs last title and would be the favorite to do so if they win it this year.  Shaquille O'Neal dominated the Finals MVP award during the Lakers three-peat in the early 2000s with Kobe winning it in their titles in 2009 and 2010. 

Overall MVP awards?  Duncan has two awards (2002, 2004) to Kobe's one (2008).  Interesting to note that neither won a title in their MVP seasons.  All-Star games?  Kobe has 15 to Duncan's 14.  All-NBA First team?  Kobe has done so 11 times to Duncan's 10.  Defensive first team?  Kobe has done so 9 times to Duncan's 8.  Not as relevant, but Kobe has two Gold Medals (Beijing, London) to Duncan's bronze medal in Athens. 

Both are among the greatest players to ever lace them up.  Kobe is near the top of the all-time scoring list while Duncan is regarded as possibly the best power forward in history.  Sheer greatness.

How about who these two beat in the Finals?  The Lakers beat the Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic and Celtics for Kobe's titles.  Not the greatest of teams, but that does include Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Dwight Howard and a Boston team that had won a title two years prior.  The Spurs beat the Knicks, Nets, Pistons and Cavaliers for their titles ... and would've beaten the Heat for this argument to take place.  New York was an 8th seed in the Finals, the Pistons were defending champs and though the 2007 Cavaliers weren't that great, this would mean the Spurs have knocked LeBron out in the Finals twice.  Beating this Heat team would beat the best win of all of them.  Still, that doesn't mean a ton since it is opportunity more than a take on how good they really are.

Both won an NBA Finals Game 7 as well.  Kobe's Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals, while Duncan and the Spurs beat the Pistons in a Game 7 of the 2005 Finals.  Duncan was huge in that Game 7, scoring 25 pts and grabbing 11 rebounds while being clutch in the 4th quarter.  Kobe didn't have as good a game in his showing.  He hit just 6-of-24 shots, but did score 10 of his 23 points in the final frame and did nab 15 boards.

One thing that helps settle this is the fact that these two have faced off SEVEN times in the Western Conference playoffs in the last 15 years ... including five times in the period of 1999 to 2004.  The results?

1999:  Spurs 4-0 in semis
2001:  Lakers 4-0 in WCF
2002:  Lakers 4-1 in semis
2003:  Spurs 4-2 in semis
2004:  Lakers 4-2 in semis
2008:  Lakers 4-1 in WCF
2013:  Spurs 4-0 in first round

Head to head, the Lakers have won 4 of the 7 series.  As far as games, Lakers hold an 18-16 lead.  It is that close. 

You can also bring up the timeframes they won their titles.  The Spurs have never won consecutive championships.  Again, they won in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and (for this argument) 2013.  That means Duncan's Spurs won in three different decades, 15 years apart.  The Lakers won in spurts.  During that "drought" between the Spurs' first and second titles, the Lakers won all three (2000, 2001, 2002) and went to the Finals between the Spurs' second and third rings.  Since the Spurs last title in 2007, the Lakers have won the Western Conference three times (the following three seasons of 2008, 2009 and 2010) while winning two championships in the latter two seasons.

The Spurs can say they have five rings in 15 years, showing their longevity.  The Lakers can say they won 5 titles in 11 years, showing their might.  So is it Kobe's or Tim's era?

I guess you have to craft your answer around which of these stats you put the most stock in.

No comments: