Legendary Columnist Makes Duncan's Case for Best Teammate Ever

Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The San Antonio Spurs have most of their hardware thanks to the on-court performance of Tim Duncan, but much of their culture can be attributed to his nature as a person.

The lowest winning percentage the Silver and Black ever had over a season under Tim was when they won "just" 61% of their games in 2009-10, which still ended with 50 victories and a second round playoff appearance. Their sustained excellence never would've been possible if he wasn't such a selfless superstar, which the crew on The Bill Simmons Podcast recently discussed.

"I was trying to think of who's on that list [of the greatest teammate ever]," began Simmons. "Because, to me, Duncan and [Stephen] Curry have to be on that list. Not all superstars were great teammates, but Duncan, KG, Curry. Who else?"

Jackie MacMullan, who's been a sports columnist, author, and TV personality since the 1980s, then took Bill's comments a step further.

"Tim Duncan is indisputably the best teammate of all time," said MacMullan. "The reason I say that is because no one asked Kevin Garnett to put aside his considerable talents the way the Spurs asked Tim Duncan to do so. And Tim Duncan, by the way, didn't care at all. All he cared about was winning and keeping the locker room copacetic."

Jackie is definitely spitting facts when it comes to why Duncan's excellence as a teammate helped the Spurs have so much success. He could've easily been a 25 and 15 guy throughout his career if he was asked to carry the club on a nightly basis. Coach Gregg Popovich knew better, though. It takes a full team effort to be a champion.

Mike Budenholzer wonders what could have been

Still, as MacMullan points out, long-time Spurs Assistant Coach Mike Budenholzer wonders how things might've been different if Duncan simply dominated to his fullest potential.

"I don't think we used him right," he previously told MacMullan. "We could've gotten more. We could've dominated with him but we kept changing the way we played and he kept changing with us."

The Spurs, of course, won five NBA championships during Duncan's 19-year run, but it's interesting to think about what they would've done if he was treated as the dominant cornerstone he easily was for the entirety of his career. Something tells me they wouldn't trade in all those titles to find out, though.

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"To me, it's Tim Duncan and [then] everybody else," concluded MacMullan. You won't find an argument from us.