Recently, Damian Lillard commented on the state of the NBA while on JJ Redick's podcast. His point was about the detrimental conversation surrounding players and how highly fans and analysts regard players based solely on their championship credentials.
I side with Lillard on this topic. The journey is just as important as the final result, and I need to know what ingredients the chef used to create the dish before I applaud it. You can't just bake me a cake and expect me to eat it. You have to tell me what you put in it first.
I digress. My point is this; Tim Duncan's journey in the NBA is grander than Frodo Baggins' voyage to Mordor. No matter how you frame the conversation about player accomplishments, you are doing it wrong if you do not discuss Timothy Theodore Duncan. There are many reasons one would be amiss to neglect Duncan, and I will gladly illuminate you.
Exhibit A is pictured above, which highlights how success characterized his legendary career. The San Antonio Spurs were a playoff team every season, and Duncan was the bus driver that took them there. As a player with only one infinity stone shy of a full six-set, the Big Fundamental often reached the pinnacle of winning.
The Tim Duncan GOAT Case
Tim Duncan ended his career with 15 All-NBA selections, two regular season MVPs, and three Finals MVPs. His 15 All-Defense Team selection is the most for any player in league history. Accolades like these only go to the top of the upper echelon in the pantheon of greats, so based on this alone, his name can be tossed in the hat.
The true lynchpin to the argument is the sustained success during the non-championship years. That 71.9% winning percentage is higher than Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, and Shaquille O'Neal. It is challenging to win regular season games year in and year out in the NBA, and Tim Duncan did it consistently while, quite honestly, making it look easy.