One of the biggest rivalries in the past 20 years in the NBA was between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. Both teams became powerhouses after drafting two HOF players in Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant that would lead their teams to several championships and many playoff appearances. They faced off against each other numerous times in various stages of the playoffs, but the first encounter between the two teams in the second round of 1999 playoffs was significant for Kobe Bryant.
At an early age, Kobe was very analytical of his opponents and raised his awareness of going up against the Spurs because they had David Robinson and an up and coming star Tim Duncan. Bryant remembers a conversation he had with Shaq about the Spurs before the series even started and how Shaq wasn’t even worried about facing the Spurs.
“We were about to move on from the first round of the 1999 playoffs. I remember asking Shaq if he was ready. “For what?” He questioned. “This boy we’re seeing in the next round,” I replied. “Robinson?” “Nah, the other one.” “He’s soft,” said Shaq. “I’ve been watching him all year,” I responded, “and he’s a problem that you’re going to have to deal with.”Kobe Bryant
Shaq sort of waved it off.
The Spurs swept the Lakers in the series and would continue to win the championship in a lockout-shortened season that year. It was none other than Tim Duncan, who pretty much outplayed everyone in that series averaging 29 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks shooting over 50 percent from the field. That series is something Kobe Bryant will always remember because it showed him that he might face Duncan, who was already playing like a real MVP at such an early age in every playoff in throughout his career.
“By the time the Spurs were finished sweeping us, Tim Duncan had averaged something like 30 points. He was already on my radar but after that series? Wow. I realized San Antonio would be a threat we’d have to deal with for all of eternity.”
They would both end up winning 5 championships with their teams through the next 15 years, and they faced off against each other in 82 games. Duncan was more successful in winning in 43 out of these 82 games. However, Kobe won in more playoff games against Duncan with an 18-12 total record. Some fans would say wins in the playoffs mean more, but in their case, it doesn’t really matter since they both won the same number of NBA championships.