What a vicious cycle the NBA is.
During his pre-finals media availability, James told reporters he believes Duncan, not Bryant, has been the most dominant player of the past 15 years (via ASAP Sports):
If I just look at the last 15 years, he's probably been the most consistent, most dominant player that we've had as far as 15 years all together. He's won four titles, multiple All Stars, MVP, and so on and so on.
I think He doesn't get a lot of recognition because he's not flashy like a lot of guys are. He's not jumping over people and high‑flying and doing the things that attracts people to the game. But I think true basketball, true IQ people, players know how great he is. What else can you say?
After seeing this quote, Bryant may be inclined to ask "What about me?"
Bryant admitted the competition between him and Duncan is something he thrives off. Together, their teams account for nine of the last 14 NBA championships. They've been selected to a combined 29 All-Star games and they're both future, first-ballot Hall of Famers.
To James, Duncan has the edge. Plenty of others would disagree, though his inclination isn't unfounded.
Rarely does Duncan garner the type of praise Bryant does. Playing for the San Antonio Spurs, his success has been covert. Small markets have that effect. The Spurs are only recognized as a dominant force when they make it to the finals, otherwise they're eclipsed by franchises in bigger markets.
Like the Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers.
Nothing about Bryant goes unnoticed. He calls one of the most lavish locales in the league home. While his play has pushed him to the forefront of public colloquy, the city in which he represents has only advanced his cause.
Not that Bryant doesn't deserve the attention. He does. But like James points out, The Big Fundamental deserves more of his own.
Duncan already has four titles, and he's playing for a fifth. If he's not perceived to be greater than Bryant now, a fifth ring would force any doubters to reconsider their stance.
Maybe they'll even wind up siding with James' stance.