Few players in the NBA, past or present, have been able to hold off Father Time as long as Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Both players were the face of their franchise for the past two decades and were able to stand the test of time while leading two of the most successful teams in the league.
On Monday, Duncan announced that he has chosen to retire after 19 years with the Spurs. Bryant, who recently retired after his 20th season, took to Twitter to congratulate his longtime adversary after hearing about Duncan’s intention to walk away from the game:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 11, 2016
Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. also took to Twitter to show some respect to the five-time NBA champion. Nance admits to having a pair Duncan’s shoes growing up and idolizing the Spurs star:
Had every pair of Timmy's shoes growing up. Wanted to be just like him. True professional and champion. Thank you for 19 years of excellence
— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) July 11, 2016
Ironically enough, Kobe’s longtime teammate and former Laker, Pau Gasol, will help fill the void for the Spurs in the wake of Duncan’s decision to retire. After two years with the Chicago Bulls, Gasol has agreed to a deal with the Spurs and is an ideal replacement for arguably the greatest power forward of all time.
Despite losing a legend in Duncan, Gregg Popovich and company will still be one of the best teams in the league. The addition of Gasol gives San Antonio another solid frontcourt player with championship experience to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
As for the Lakers, the search continues regarding which player on the team can help fill the shoes of arguably the greatest player in the franchise’s history. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Jordan Clarkson will help shoulder the load as the team rebuilds and hopes to see a superstar emerge.