After Tim Duncan won his fifth NBA Title Sunday night, he tied Kobe Bryant for the number of championships. If you think Bryant is immune to the seemingly trivial competition between the two rivals, then you don’t really know Kobe.
Bryant was in Brazil on ESPN this week to cheer on the U.S. Men’s soccer team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He addressed their coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, and his recent comments about Bryant being overpaid to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“I thought it was pretty funny. I thought it was pretty comical actually,” Bryant said. “I see his perspective. But the one perspective that he’s missing from an ownership point of view is that you want to be part of an ownership group that is rewarding its players for what they’ve done while balancing the team going forward. If you’re another player in the future and you’re looking at the Lakers organization, you want to be a part of an organization that takes care of its players while at the same time planning for the future. Jurgen is a coach, a manager. He’s not a GM or owner of the franchise. When you look at it from that perspective, it changes a little bit. But you probably could have used another player as an example.”
So Klinsmann calls him overpaid and Kobe responds in measured tones. That wasn’t the case when it came to Duncan’s fifth ring, matching Kobe’s total.
“If you ask me if I’m okay with Tim doing it, I’m not,” Bryant said. “I’m not okay with that.”
Of course he isn’t! Only MJ was more pathological about real or imagined slights, and Duncan — the best power forward in history at this point — tying Kobe for rings has got be tough to handle. Not to mention the fact the Spurs are in a much better position to compete for another title next year, which could see Duncan overcoming Kobe’s ring totals and would rewrite the first decade and a half of the millennium, perhaps placing Duncan on a higher historical pedestal than Bryant.
That is going to grate at Kobe, and you can be sure he’s stewing before next season, hoping he’s healthy enough to get the Lakers back in title contention, even if all signs say otherwise.
Who has had a more dominant career, Kobe or Duncan?
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