The winning ties them together. The way in which they win don’t.
Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan have combined for nine NBA titles, three MVPS and five Finals MVPS by maximizing their longevity and mastering their fundamentals. Then that’s where the similarities stop. Bryant’s touted his greatness in five NBA titles and a fourth-place standing on the all-time scoring list with dramatic game winners and a scowling personality. Duncan has cemented four NBA rings (and possibly five with a Game 7 win) with a trusty bank shot and a stoic demeanor. Bryant commands the spotlight in leading the team and remaining vocal through the media. Duncan shies away from it by simply becoming a team player and remaining bland to those holding tape recorders and microphones.
So it’s a tad surprising that once in 1999, both Bryant and Duncan filmed a Sprite commercial together. Yet, there were. Bryant was a third-year pro sporting an afro, while Duncan was just a rookie receiving an early taste of the limelight he’s largely ignored.
That moment where both Bryant and Duncan temporarily basked together in celebrity showed what ultimately made both players great. Bryant relied on his explosive athleticism to drive to the basket. Duncan showcased his trusty footwork and post presence to make a few bank shots. And even if the two ultimately displayed different personalities, both of them seemed to enjoy the moment. More importantly, they savored the competition.
They still do. And that’s why they’re both so great even if they’re both different.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org