How some Kobe Bryant stans are diminishing Tim Duncan's legacy
The arguments that do drive me up a wall come mostly from casual fans who exclusively followed Kobe Bryant in the 2000s and probably couldn't name another 15 players from that decade beyond him. LeBron James drew the same type of supporters from 2005 and beyond. Again, this applies to some, not all of their fans. LeBron and Kobe are two of the best to ever do it, and if people think they are better than Timmy or others, that's their right and more than a valid opinion. But really, did those two not have help?
I'd say Kobe had just a touch of help. Oh you know, that Shaquille O'Neal fellow who was the Lakers' first option and leading playoff scorer throughout the Lakers’ 2000-2002 three-peat, deservingly winning all 3 Finals MVPs during that stretch?
These teams had a prime Derek Fisher, who was the perfect cerebral, 3-and-D fit next to Kobe. He also happened to be pretty clutch, as most Spurs fans can unfortunately never forget. And speaking of clutch, the Lakers had a younger, more athletic, consistent Robert Horry.
That core was complimented with solid players like Rick Fox and Glen Rice, as well as former NBA champions like Horace Grant and Ron Harper from Coach Phil Jackson’s Bulls’ years. And speaking of Hall of Fame Coach Jackson, these teams were led by a six-time NBA champion, who ran a similar triangle offense with Michael Jordan in Chicago to great success before Kobe even entered the league.
The second repeat may have had an older Fisher and no Shaq, but featured the return of Phil Jackson alongside a prime Pau Gasol. It also had a budding Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest, and Trevor Ariza, making for the NBA's deepest starting five at the time. They also had the Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom.
For every Kobe fan lamenting the Smush Parker years, Kobe also started alongside Gary Payton and Karl Malone as third and fourth options behind him and Shaq, and also had Pau, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash (granted, Nash got injured).
While Kobe never had Phil Jackson all those years, he never won a ring without him, so really, is that any different than Duncan and Pop, especially if Kobe is the one that arguably drove Phil away in the middle years?