San Antonio Spurs History

Spurs: Why Are the Legacies of Tim Duncan and David Robinson Being Attacked?

Cal Durrett
San Antonio Spurs David Robinson, Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs David Robinson, Tim Duncan / PAUL BUCK/GettyImages
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Tim Duncan and David Robinson rank as the San Antonio Spurs' greatest players but recently, it's as if their greatness has been trivialized. Duncan's legacy has repeatedly been the subject of debate on Twitter and among former players, with many seemingly trying to rewrite history by criticizing his career.

As for David Robinson, he has become something of a historic afterthought despite being one of the most productive players in NBA history. So what's going on? Why have basketball fans seemingly turned against two all-time greats? Let's take a closer look at why Duncan and Robinson's legacies may be at risk.

Duncan, who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, has become the talk of basketball on Twitter. More often than not, his name trends because of haters, as well as fans of former rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. Worse yet, they unfavorably compare him to Kobe Bryant or Anthony Davis.

It would be one thing if they had a point or even close to a legit argument, but instead, they default to attacking Duncan's career. They even accuse him of being a system player, but It's revisionist history to call him one when the Spurs' system was created and thrived as a result of his dominance. 

Of course, that doesn't stop people from referring to Duncan as a system player, implying that he benefitted heavily from playing under Gregg Popovich. They fail to point out, however, that Duncan led the Spurs to three championships as their best player. 

Additionally, he was San Antonio's second-best player on two more championship teams and another Finals team. He is also a 15-time all-star, made a record 15 all-defensive teams, and is one of only two players to score 27,000 points, grab 15,000 rebounds, and block 3,000 shots. Not bad for a system player.

Despite those accomplishments, he gets compared to Davis, who has accomplished surprisingly little in 11 seasons relative to his talent. Davis, who is 28, has won just one championship while Duncan won three titles and a combined five MVP trophies at the same age.

While Davis may have him beat in terms of athleticism and perimeter skill, Duncan was a top-five NBA player for a full decade, effectively ending any sane debate over who's better. In regard to Kobe and Duncan, it's fair to say that Duncan had the better overall career.

As for Robinson, unlike Duncan, he largely seems to be ignored in basketball conversations about the greatest players of all time, altogether. Some of that can be attributed to Robinson playing most of his career in the '90s where a number of great players were overshadowed by Michael Jordan.

San Antonio Spurs
David Robinson, Sam Perkins / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

David Robinson is getting similar treatment

David Robinson also had to compete against the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal, both then and even now. It appears that Robinson suffers from a branding issue. Olajuwon's reputation has benefited greatly from his work with younger stars after retirement, allowing him to stay relevant with younger fans while other former players sing his praise. 

As for Shaq, he's just about everywhere, making it impossible for people to forget about him. He also played for the Lakers, and with Kobe, even leading them to a three-peat and a fourth NBA Finals appearance, further adding to his legend.

Still, Robinson put up truly historic, NBA 2K level numbers, including scoring 71 points in a game, averaging nearly 30 points in one season, blocking 4.5 shots per game in another season, and is one of just four players to ever record a quadruple-double. 

He also scored 20,000 points and blocked nearly 3,000 shots in essentially 13 seasons. For context, it took Duncan 19 seasons to surpass Robinson in blocks. Additionally, Robinson started his NBA career at the age of 24, whereas most players of his era entered the league at 21 or 22, not to mention he also virtually all of his age-31 season. 

As a result of that missed time, his career totals don't compare to other top players historically, but his advanced stats certainly do. He ranks second all-time in win-shares per 48 minutes, only behind Michael Jordan, and ranks 5th all-time in P.E.R. ahead of players like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and even Duncan.

Ultimately, both Duncan and Robinson are not only two of the greatest players in team history, but NBA history as well. While it's disappointing that their accomplishments either seemingly get downplayed or overlooked, Duncan is still considered to be the greatest power forward in NBA history. Additionally, Robinson is generally regarded as one of the five greatest centers ever.

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That said, many basketball fans nowadays may not recognize how great they were, but their achevements are hard to ignore, even if some choose to do so.

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