Former LeBron sidekick says Spurs legend, not Kobe, was GOAT of the 2000s

Kobe Bryant has a legendary legacy fans will remember for years to come, but ex-Miami Heat guard Norris Cole says San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan deserves more respect.

Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan / GABRIEL BOUYS/GettyImages

Recently, former Miami Heat guard Norris Cole stirred up a debate on the Run Your Race podcast, suggesting that the Kobe Bryant era should also be recognized as the Tim Duncan era due to Duncan's unparalleled dominance as a player. Cole's comments shed light on the enduring legacy of Duncan, even as he reached the twilight of his career with the San Antonio Spurs.

At 37 years old, Duncan was still a force to be reckoned with, averaging an impressive 19 points and 12 rebounds during the 2013 NBA Finals. This performance underscored his remarkable consistency and prowess on the court, which spanned from the inception of his career to its culmination. He helped stamp that consistency the following year, averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds at 38 years old on his way to his fifth championship.

The 2000s belonged to Tim Duncan as much as Kobe Bryant

Duncan's accolades speak volumes about his impact on the game. With 15 All-Star appearances, 15 All-Defensive Team selections, and 15 All-NBA selections, he stands alone as the only player in NBA history to achieve this feat—a testament to his unparalleled greatness.

Despite the highlight reels often dominated by Kobe Bryant, the narrative of Bryant's era overshadowing Duncan's contributions is unfounded. Duncan's consistency in leading the Spurs to 50-win seasons year after year, barring NBA lockouts, exemplifies his unwavering excellence. Even in shortened seasons, he maintained a staggering 70% win rate—a feat few can match. In his long and illustrious career, he never missed the playoffs. That was not the case for the Black Mamba.

While Kobe Bryant enjoyed tremendous success during his first three-peat alongside Shaquille O'Neal, it's essential to recognize that O'Neal was the linchpin of those teams. With O'Neal often regarded as one of the top 10 players of all time, Duncan's championship victories without a dominant co-star elevated his status as the premier player of his era—a declining David Robinson does not count aside from the 1999 championship, though Tim was still the driving force.

The Spurs' faithful have long defended the importance of players like Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, whose contributions were integral to the team's success. However, the ongoing debate has shifted to emphasize Duncan's role as the primary catalyst behind the Spurs' dynasty due to NBA fans' attempts to discredit the talent of Ginobili and Parker. After both players were left off the list of the top 75 players of all time, Spurs fans took the opportunity to elevate Tim Duncan's accomplishments.

In retrospect, Norris Cole's remarks serve as a reminder of Tim Duncan's enduring legacy and his rightful place among the NBA's all-time greats. As Spurs fans continue to champion Duncan's contributions, they affirm his status as the cornerstone of an era defined by excellence and unparalleled success.