Wednesday , Jan , 02 , 2008 Oly Sandor

The Best Player To Start An NBA Team With: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Or Tim Duncan?

And the debate would still rage if choices were limited to current players from the modern era. For example, would you build around the brilliant Kobe Bryant? How about opting for athleticism and all-round play with LeBron James? Then there’s Tim Duncan, the consummate professional and perfect teammate …

The Best Player To Start An NBA Team With: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Or Tim Duncan?It’s a controversial question. One that dominates watercoolers, playgrounds, and gymnasiums around the world: who is the best player to start an NBA team with?

Naturally, there’d be a range of opinions. The old school would champion classics like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, or Oscar Robertson. Fans from the nineteen eighties would pick Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or the great Michael Jordan.

And the debate would still rage if choices were limited to current players from the modern era. For example, would you build around the brilliant Kobe Bryant? How about opting for athleticism and all-round play with LeBron James? Then there’s Tim Duncan, the consummate professional and perfect teammate.

Of course, this question is perfect for the HoopsVibe masses. But let’s limit the choices to the three modern players: Bryant, James, or Duncan. Let’s also set criteria-we want readers to pick the one player who best establishes a culture of winning. Individual numbers and accolades are secondary.

As always, read the post, form an opinion, and tell us whether Bryant, James, or Duncan is the player you start your team with.

The case for Bryant:

  • He’s probably the greatest individual talent of all-time. Bryant can do it all: score at will, facilitate the offense, drop highlight dimes, and lockdown opponents on defense.
  • He possesses a tremendous work ethic. Bryant is constantly working on his game-simply put, Mamba is a perfectionist who lives and dies basketball.
  • He’s a winner. Bryant collected three consecutive NBA Titles with former L.A. running mate Shaquille O’Neal. And, over the summer, he showed his team-first colors, accepting a subordinate, defensive-stopper role with Team USA.     

The case for James:

  • He’s the greatest athlete to ever play in the NBA. James possesses a rare combination of speed, grace, power and athleticism.
  • He’s Oscar Robertson reincarnated. James dominates all facets of the game and could be the first player since The Big O to average a triple-double over an entire season.
  • He’s a great teammate. During last season’s playoffs, James encouraged and supported teammates, getting a so-so supporting cast to overachieve.  

The case for Duncan:

  • He’s a winner. Duncan is the superstar for a San Antonio franchise that’s won four NBA Titles. The Spurs, with The Big Fundamental, are always competitive.
  • He’s probably the greatest power forward of all-time, regularly posting 20-10 seasons. Duncan has fluid post moves and a deadly mid-range jumper. Oh yeah, he dominates on defense, too.  
  • He’s a total professional. Duncan never causes controversy-unless you count telling off referee Joey Crawford. He gels with teammates, fans, coaches, and management.  

Verdict: Duncan. By a hair.

Why: This is a tough decision. Remember, our purpose was to select the player who best creates and establishes a winning legacy.

Folks, that’s Duncan.

Stop hating on his methodical efficiency. And stop hating on what you perceive as a lack of personality. The four-man is a winner. During Duncan’s career, San Antonio has created a culture of excellence, winning NBA Titles or coming damn close each June to hosting a parade.

Bryant, after three straight NBA Titles, hasn’t set-up the same winning environment in Los Angeles. James is still young, so his body of work can’t measure up to the older Duncan.

Right now, Duncan is the modern player I start my NBA franchise with. All he does is win games and create an expectation where championships are the norm.

Who do you start your team with: Bryant, James, or Duncan? Get at us in the comment box below or hit us up in our . Click here to read and subscribe to Oly Sandor’s NBA Blog.