I happened to stumble across a question on Yahoo Answers that I thought was interesting. The question was who had the better career Larry Bird or Tim Duncan? The answer is not so obvious though because even though Bird played some power forward in his career he was primarily a small forward.
So far in his NBA career Duncan has played 13 seasons in the NBA and this year will be his 14th. In Bird's distinguished career he played 13 seasons. Since, both players currently have played the same amount of seasons it becomes that more interesting to compare the two.
First here's a look at Bird's regular season numbers, post season numbers, best season and post season of his career, and also his accolades.
Bird scored 21,791 points, grabbed 8,974 rebounds, dished out 5,695 assists, had 1,556 steals, and 755 blocks. In his career he average 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals, .8 blocks, on 49.6 percent shooting, 37.6 percent from three, and 88.6 percent from the free throw line.
For Bird his best season came in 1986-1987 when he averaged 28.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.8 steals, .9 blocks, on 52.5 percent shooting, 40 percent from three, and 91 percent from the free throw line.
In the post season Bird averaged 23.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals, .9 blocks, on 47.2 percent shooting, 32.1 percent from three, and 89 percent from the free throw line.
His best post season performance came in 1986-1987 as sell when he averaged 27 points, 10 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.2 steals, .8 blocks, on 47.6 percent shooting, 34.1 percent from three, and 91.2 percent from the free throw line.
Accolades for Bird include:12 All-Star games with 10 games being played, two were missed due to injury, has a Rookie of the Year Award, three MVPs, two Finals MVPs, a Rookie First Team selection, nine First Team All-NBA selections, one Second Team All-NBA selection, two Second Team All-Defense selections, and three championships rings.
He ranks fourth all-time in three pointers, fourth all-time in three point attempts, 10th in free throw percentage, 13th all-time in minutes per game,17th all-time in points per game, 25th all-time in field goals, 28th all-time in field goal attempts, 28th all-time in steals, 28th all-time in steals per game, 30th all-time in total points, 33rd all-time in assists, 42nd all-time in assists per game, and 47th all-time in rebounds per game.
Bird was a legend because he was a unique for someone his height he could not only handle the basketball, he could rebound, was solid defensively, but Bird truly made his mark with his ability to hit the three. In his career only one time did Bird not make it into the playoffs with the Boston Celtics.
As for Duncan here's a look at his regular season numbers, post season numbers, best season and post season of his career, and also his accolades.
In his career he has scored so far 20,641 points, grabbed 11,335 rebounds, dished out 3,093 assists, has 2,235 blocks, 734 steals, has shot 50.8 percent from the field, and 68.7 percent from the free throw line. He averages so far 21.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.3 blocks, and .8 steals.
Duncan's best season came in 2001-2002 when he averaged 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.5 blocks, .7 steals, on 50.8 percent shooting, and 79.9 percent from the free throw line.
In the post season so far for Duncan he's averaged 23 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.6 blocks, .7 steals, on 50.2 percent shooting, and 67.9 percent from the free throw line. His best post season came in 2002-2003 when he averaged 24.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.3 blocks, .6 steals, on 52.9 percent shooting, and 67.7 percent from the free throw line.
His accolades so far for Duncan include 12 All-Star Game selections, a Rookie of the Year Award, three Finals MVPs, two MVPs, a First Team All-Rookie selection, nine First Team All-NBA selections, eight First Team All-Defensive selections, three Second Team All-NBA selections, five Second Team All-Defensive selections, one Third Team All-NBA selection, and four championship rings.
Ranks so far 13th all-time in blocks, 17th in blocks per game, 22nd in rebounds per game, 26th all-time in total rebounds, 27th all-time in free throw attempts, 34th all-time in field goals, 37th in total points, 37th all-time in free throws, 38th in points per game, and 44th all-time in field goal attempts.
What makes Duncan such a great player is his fundamentals he has excellent footwork which helps him on the offensive end as well as the defensive end and for a big man in the post he is an excellent passer.
When comparing the two careers it's even more difficult because both have similar accolades. Bird has three regular season MVPs while Duncan has two, yet Duncan has three Finals MVPs while Bird has two. Duncan has four championship rings and Bird has three.
In the regular season Bird was the slightly better player, but in the post season Duncan was the slightly better player. Too determine which player had the most successful career is extremely difficult as both are considered the greatest of all-time at their respective positions.
Offensively Bird had the advantage because he was the better scorer of the two thanks to his ability to handle the ball and shoot from distance, but Duncan has Bird beat defensively as Duncan is one of the best defensive players of all-time and his accolades prove that.
In my opinion though Duncan would slightly edge out Bird for a couple of reasons though, one is the championships Duncan has four while Bird has three, the Finals MVPs which Duncan has three and Bird two, Duncan's best post season is better than Bird's best post season, and Duncan's slightly better defensive abilities put him over Bird who was better offensively.