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posted: 5/21/2013 5:45 AM

Forget Kobe vs. MJ, now it's Kobe vs. Duncan

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  • While Kobe Bryant has one more championship ring than Tim Duncan, the Spurs are still alive in the NBA playoffs. If San Antonio wins a title this season, Mike North contends Duncan could lay claim to the best player in the league since Michael Jordan left the game and LeBron James took it over.

      While Kobe Bryant has one more championship ring than Tim Duncan, the Spurs are still alive in the NBA playoffs. If San Antonio wins a title this season, Mike North contends Duncan could lay claim to the best player in the league since Michael Jordan left the game and LeBron James took it over.
    Associated Press/2012 file

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Inside

Phil Jackson caused a mini stir last week when he was promoting his new book, "Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success" and stated what many of us already knew: Michael Jordan was the more complete basketball player both physically and mentally than Kobe Bryant.

Obviously, Kobe has done extremely well for himself, but I think a more realistic debate should be over San Antonio's Tim Duncan vs. Kobe.

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If the Spurs and Duncan win another championship, Duncan would have 5 rings -- just like Kobe. Shouldn't the discussion then be whether Duncan rivals Kobe as the greatest player pre-LeBron James?

While Kobe is undeniably a great player, the No. 2 guard position for the All-Time Team belongs to MJ -- hands down.

People in the know now are saying that Tim Duncan, with apologies to Karl Malone, may be the greatest power forward to play the game. I think Duncan plays as much center as power forward, but Duncan would at least have a claim as the best player in the league over the last 15 years.

Kobe is flashier and hyped a lot more, but then he also plays in the second largest market in the country. If there was ever a superstar who flew under the radar. it's Tim Duncan. His nickname, "The Big Fundamental," suits him while Kobe's "Black Mamba" or his latest moniker, "Vino," reinforce that playing in Hollywood is a lot cooler than next door to the Alamo.

Duncan has said about 20 words in his career, never throws his teammates under the bus, and he hasn't had any legal troubles. Duncan is "uncool," but that works for him.

Right now, Kobe has one more ring so he wins by a slight edge, but if the Spurs hoist the championship trophy again it could be time to take a second look.

If the Spurs played in New York, I believe they might be rock stars, but with 10 times the pressure they just might wilt. In the Lone Star State, their every move isn't under a microscope.

Kobe, of course, has had to play under much tougher scrutiny. Either way if Duncan wins his fifth ring, the question will be not if Kobe was better than MJ, but was he better than Duncan.

Program note:

Watch me on "Mancow" on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Friday and Monday.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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