With the playing days of so many great athletes in sports having now come to a close, 2016 has officially become the year of the retired superstar. Now that list is perhaps even more solidified as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, and of course Kobe Bryant, welcome the newly-retired Tim Duncan to the club.
Now that the Big Fundamental has called it quits in the most Duncan-way possible, the debate between he and Kobe as this generation’s greatest player is now more heated than ever. Although it’s easy to make a case for either of the two given the criteria, it seems that several current NBA players would give the nod to Kobe.
According to Justine Termine of Sirius XM NBA, both Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza were in agreement over this generation’s best player:
Trevor Ariza & Jason Terry just agreed on @SiriusXMNBA that Kobe is best player of the generation over both Duncan & Lebron.
— Justin Termine (@TermineRadio) July 21, 2016
Despite being just a small sample size, Terry and Ariza share the same mindset that is largely shared throughout the league. While Duncan is the staple for consistency having made the playoffs in all 19 years, Bryant’s constant struggle to rise to the top seemed to resonate more with basketball fans.
Duncan being the ultimate teammate, took a backseat to other players during his final years with the Spurs and his production ultimately dwindled. Meanwhile despite Kobe’s struggles with injury, remained as his teams top scorer and facilitator before capping off his career with an unforgettable 60-point performance.
Since it’s now unheard of to see a player finish his days with the team he started with, that makes Kobe and Duncan the last of a dying breed.
Although they share a similar body of work, the two took almost completely different paths to reach the pinnacle of greatness before eventually walking away from the game as legends.