We’re roughly two weeks away from the Hall of Fame induction of the San Antonio Spurs‘ greatest player ever, Tim Duncan. While there’s no argument from most that he’s one of the top players the NBA has ever seen, his placement among the elite is still frequently in question.
The topic came up in a recent episode of the Spurs’ official podcast, Spurslandia, which was released on Wednesday. In the episode, host and former Spur Matt Bonner welcomed legendary broadcaster Dan Patrick to the show to discuss his rise in the industry and how he got to the top.
Eventually, the topic turned to Spurs basketball, which started when Bonner asked Patrick to list his top five players ever.
“I couldn’t do it,” replied Patrick. “I would put LeBron and Michael in there, obviously. It’s so hard to do. In a generational way is the best way to go about it. It’s not meant as a cop-out. It’s just, I love what players do in different generations. Do I put Kobe in there? Do I put Shaq in there? Do I put Tim Duncan in there? How much does winning have to do with it?”
The mention of Duncan brought an immediate “yes” from Matt Bonner, who played with Tim for 10 years in San Antonio.
“But if Tim doesn’t have five championships, he’s not involved in the conversation,” replied Patrick. “Take out titles. Who’s in there? We give too much credit for winning a title.”
The two then spent almost 10 minutes debating the criteria of greatest players in league history, which got hilariously heated at times.
“The metric to me is winning and all the all-league nods, like All-Defensive,” said Bonner at one point, drawing an immediate response from Patrick. “Oh, those are silly! Why do we give Rudy Gobert an easy pass to First Team All Pro? Because we don’t have any centers in the game!”
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan’s placement in NBA history
Eventually, the two broke down where Tim Duncan should rank all-time, in which Patrick called out Bonner’s bias in putting Tim in his top five players ever. “You’re biased! He’s not in the top five,” said Patrick. “He had a Hall of Fame coach and he had a couple of other Hall of Fame players.”
Later in the show, Dan placed Duncan in his top 15 of all-time but wouldn’t expand on exactly where he lands in that area. The heated debate is certainly worth a listen if only to hear how agitated Patrick was getting throughout.
The argument of NBA greatness is something I see daily on NBA Twitter, but one aspect I agree with Dan on is how it’s tough to compare players from different eras in an ever-changing game. He makes excellent points up until he goes to bat for Kobe Bryant while also dismissing some of Duncan’s achievements due to having Hall of Fame teammates.
While there will never be a definitive top list of NBA players we can all agree on, sometimes the debate can be entertaining. Sometimes.