Tim Duncan, despite being indisputably labeled as one of the league's most legendary players, has never found his name thrown into the greatest of all time debates—and rightfully so.
Instead, the San Antonio Spurs' future Hall of Famer is associated with a different debate—one involving the top player of this generation.
He and Kobe Bryant are always the two most prominent names, so the argument is a heated one. Not only are the individual careers of the two players discussed, but the teams that they have led to greatness are often debated as well.
The San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers are two of the league's most celebrated franchises and have been absolute powerhouses over the past decade.
On one side are the Spurs, an organization built from the ground up, who have been contenders since Duncan's arrival in 1997. During his tenure, the team has won four titles, never failing to make the postseason.
The Lakers dynasty was formed after combining the talents of two world-class players, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. O'Neal obtained the reins and passed them on to Bryant after his career dwindled to a close. Throughout their careers, Los Angeles has witnessed a total of five titles, three with O'Neal present and two without.
And while these dynasties are undoubtedly the two best in recent history, a question emerges: Which one is better?
The statistic that jumps out is the Lakers' five titles to the Spurs' four; however, the difference is so small that other factors are needed to determine the true winner.
An interesting aspect to deliberate is the fact that the Spurs championships were spaced out, whereas the Lakers won theirs in clusters.
LA won three in row, riding Shaq to victory each time, and then—after a seven year hiatus—they won a back-to-back pair on the shoulders of Bryant.
The Spurs however, won in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, a consistent interval that allowed their names to never be forgotten as potential contenders. In fact, the Spurs—unlike the Lakers—reached the playoffs ever year since acquiring Duncan. While the Lakers only missed out once, something can be said for the Spurs dynamic statistic.
The reason for these striking differences in terms of their intervals of dominance is the fact that the Spurs' core never varied—giving them the same chance at success year after year.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have watched their nucleus fluctuate greatly—from the Bryant and O'Neal duo to the Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Kobe big three. Even now, their team's core has changed drastically, featuring the talents of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to assist Gasol and Bryant.
And despite the changes that their counterpart has undergone, the Spurs nucleus remains untouched.
Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan remain the heart and soul of the Spurs, as well as the reason for their continued dominance. Despite the inevitable aging process, they remain some of the league's elite players, even after deteriorating with age.
While there isn't anything wrong with fetching new talent as the times change, the term "dynasty" may be inadequate when referring to the Lakers' success compared to the Spurs.
The Lakers team has featured different stars and different individuals leading the team. O'Neal was the main man for the first three championships, and Kobe was responsible for the last two. The two rosters are quite different from one another, and while Kobe was certainly present for all five, calling the team his over the course of the decade is inaccurate.
The dynasties showcased in L.A. were—in fact—two separate ones, while San Antonio has been exposed to one, led by the same three stars year after year.
This Duncan-led Spurs' dynasty is superior, due largely to its consistency both in production and with its roster. Both teams have been incredible, combining to total nine championships. However, the Spurs' dynasty has remained intact for over a decade, while the Lakers' has been knocked down and rebuilt.
This alone is enough evidence to consider the Spurs the top team of this generation.
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