Marc Serota/Getty Images
Duncan Never Did Anything to Undermine His Coach
OK, for my final point, we’re going to play the "Perfect World Game." The PWG is quite simple: you can adjust things in any manner you choose in order to make your point, and it’s just assumed that it’s possible.
For this version, we’re going to create the "Ultimate NBA" where we have 30 teams, all starting from scratch and able to pick any player from any era. The team will get the services of every player for the duration of their career, and the franchise will have no knowledge of who they will be playing against or what era they will be playing in.
In other words, you have to be prepared for EVERYTHING. That means you could be playing in a 1950s style one night and a modern-day version of the game the next.
Now that we’ve established MY ground rules in MY Perfect World Game, let’s talk about how the drafting process would go. Because seven-footers are so rare and so meaningful to the history of the NBA, I’d imagine many teams would be leaning in that direction right from the get-go.
Also, teams want model citizens because negative publicity off the court could lead to negative fan reaction, which in turn leads to lost revenue. The best type of player would be one that you NEVER heard about off the court in a negative light. He would be a, what’s the word I’m looking for...an adult.
Sure, everyone loves Jordan’s fiery competitiveness and his incredible will to win, but punching teammates in the face and gambling at practice for thousands on half-court shots isn’t the best atmosphere to create for a franchise unless you had the perfect coach in place.
Since we can’t guarantee with our new franchises who the coach will be, picking Jordan would be a bit more of a "gambling" risk. Wilt was notoriously selfish so he’s out. Bird and Magic both had shortened careers, Kobe had Colorado, Shaq had offseason cupcakes, rap albums and Kazaam and Oscar was too bitter.
That leaves us with Duncan, Abdul-Jabbar and Russell, but I have to eliminate Russell simply because he wasn’t big enough to handle modern players. Between Duncan and Kareem, ultimately, I think most teams would pick Duncan because of Kareem’s supposed moodiness, lack of defensive prowess and overall disconnect from his teammates.
It took an infectious like Magic to bring out Kareem’s minimal personality; Duncan WAS that personality, and in the end, that’s the difference.
Duncan has proven throughout his career that he can play in any system, with any type of teammates, do everything necessary to win and make everyone around him better. Plus, he’s proved that he can do it for 15-plus years and never do anything outside of basketball to jeopardize himself or the organization.
What other all time great can you say that about? (Letting you think) Exactly.
And that, along with the fact that he's one of the most talented basketball players to ever grace the earth, is why Tim Duncan could (and maybe should…maybe) be considered the greatest NBA player of all time.
Follow me on Twitter: @MountmomusChris