When the NBA released their full list of the top 75 players of all time, Tim Duncan was likely a first-ballot selection by all panelists asked. Other San Antonio Spurs to make the cut were scoring legend George Gervin and The Admiral, David Robinson.
Notably absent from the panel's selection were Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who both won four NBA championships in San Antonio and are expected to make the Basketball Hall of Fame when they're eligible.
Although many Spurs fans were upset with the omissions, I wasn't completely surprised and wasn't even offended. When I consider guys like Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, Grant Hill, and Tracy McGrady also didn't make the 75, it's hard to make the case for Tony and Manu when you don't factor in international accomplishments.
That argument aside, what the top 75 list did clarify for me was something Spurs fans have known all along. The opinion that Tim Duncan had too much help to be considered an all-time great shall forever be considered null and void.
Was he helped by players that will probably reach basketball immortality soon? Yes. But news flash, winning titles is hard, and that's what it takes to win multiple rings.
So the next time you hear someone making the argument that the help around Duncan is why he won his five rings, I'd like for you to show them this.
Let me break this chart down a bit. I looked at some of the winningest legends in NBA history and went one by one through the rosters of each of their title-winning teams. For each championship, I totaled how many teammates they had that year that made the NBA's top 75. For example, Robert Horry's number is made up of Hakeem Olajuwon (2), Shaquille O'Neal (3), Kobe Bryant (3), and Tim Duncan (2).
As you can see, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan both did the most with the least when it comes to winning championships. Bryant's three titles with Shaq were the only times he won it all with a top 75 player while Duncan's titles with Robinson (2) and Kawhi Leonard make up his three.
According to the NBA, the 75th Anniversary Team was selected by a "blue-ribbon panel of current and former NBA players, coaches, general managers and team and league executives, WNBA legends and sportswriters and broadcasters." It's hard to discredit the opinions of such a group, which is another reason I don't mind them missing Tony and Manu. Their selections hold some real weight.
Bryant and Duncan are already two of the most successful players in league history, and this statistic should put them in the top five ever conversation. If you want to separate it further and look at how Tim won 50-plus games throughout his 19-year career, then there's a legitimate case for greatest of all time.
I'm of the opinion that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever and that's probably never going to change. But when you factor in overall success plus individual accomplishments with limited help, how can Duncan be much further behind?