Heading into the HOF ceremony, one of the inductees and NBA legend Tim Duncan spoke to the media at the press conference. Humble as he is, Duncan talked with a great deal of respect about the late great Kobe Bryant, with whom he shared many unforgettable moments on the court during their rivalry. It was the Spurs, or the Lakers, making NBA finals for almost 15 years which is a testament to the greatness of how dominant they were during those years.
Duncan had quite a few epic games against Kobe and the Lakers, and what he mentioned as the most important is that those moments bring out the best in you. As a competitor and an athlete, there is no greater privilege than to match up against the best in your sport while showing mutual respect for each other. That is the type of relationship Duncan and Kobe cherished throughout the years.
The greatest competition brings the best out of you. That is what he always did. You always have to be at your best and bring your best from start to finish if you are playing against him or any of his teams. That is what I appreciate about or remember playing against him and being on the court with him. Fierce competitor, always demanding more of his teammates, more than it was probably possible. He wanted to win that much, he wanted it that much, and it was an honor to share the court with him.
Tim Duncan, via Hall of Fame
The rivalry between the Spurs and Lakers was real with numerous great performances by both players. Duncan admitted that throughout the years, when the Spurs realized they would have to go through the Lakers one way or the other, even the regular games felt like playoff games. Having these two teams compete would bring the best out of the crowd, which created some fond memories of playing basketball for Duncan.
As years went on, even our regular-season games brought that kind of focus and intensity from all of us because we knew we were playing an opposing tough team. You are always trying to find the upper hand, whether it would be the regular season or the playoffs. The intensity was always that much higher because of the level of competitiveness he had and the teams he brought with him. I always looked forward to playing against his teams, I always looked forward to being on the court with him because I knew the crowd is going to be into it. Our team would be more focused and locked in that day.
Tim Duncan, via Hall of Fame
Duncan faced off against Kobe 82 times throughout their NBA careers, winning 43 games compared to Kobe's 39 wins. On top of that, he even has more wins than Kobe in the regular season, with 31-21 in Duncan's favor. However, when it comes to the playoffs, Kobe won 18 and Duncan 12 times, which shows how frequently they played against each other. That was definitely one of the most underrated rivalries in the NBA that lasted for almost two decades, with Kobe and Duncan showcasing what it means to be a winner and championships.