Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are two legendary figures of the NBA who will both eventually end up in the Hall of Fame, both have experienced a huge amount of success in the prime years of their career but at present time they are in very different places.
The Spurs are currently the defending champions as they look to set to challenge for another NBA title, whilst the lowly Lakers are floundering in a desperate situation and will more the likely finish with one of the worst records in the league.
Duncan is no longer the main man in San Antonio but more of a vital cog in a well oiled machine, whilst Bryant is expected to score in bunches for a team whilst carrying a dismal Lakers squad who simply are not gelling at the moment.
The two having spent so long at the elite level and met each other on the court many times, over the years they have developed a great relationship stemming from a deep level of respect.
Recently a feature on the pair’s relationship was created by the LA Daily News‘ Mark Medina, Bryant admits in the piece that he is somewhat envious of Duncan’s situation in San Antonio.
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Bryant is jealous
Speaking about the stability of Duncan in San Antonio and the way the organisation keeps rebuilding around their stable power forward and producing championship calibre units, Bryant was quoted as saying:
“I can’t express to you how much I’m jealous, I’ve been up and down.”
The marked difference between the pair is the stability within the head coaching role, Gregg Popovich has been a constant throughout Duncan's 17-year NBA career whilst Bryant has seen seven different faces call plays as the head coach for the Lakers.
Duncan explained the key reasons for his continued success:
“I’m in a system that allows me to play well, With the kind of teammates I have and players we put together, it’s not just on one person’s shoulders. We can spread it out and continue to win.”
Kobe had two major title runs alongside solid casts, including his partnership with Shaquille O'Neill which yielded a Lakers’ three-peat (2000-2002) and with Pau Gasol on back-to-back championship teams (2009, 2010).
Despite those prosperous tenures, Bryant has also experienced two first round exits as well as missed post-season year, he now adjusts to the twilight years of his illustrious career with a far from historic squad.
Despite the very different places the two ageing superstars are currently in, their contracts show a complete contradiction to the performance level of their teams.
Kobe is one of the highest earners in the league on a basement club whilst Duncan has taken a pay cut for a championship contender.
Sam Amick of USA Today reported what Bryant had to say about the disparity between his current deal (2-years $48.5 million) compared to Duncan's (3-years, $30.36 million):
"It's a different market, man. San Antonio's not doing $2 billion TV deals—or $5 billion—so it's a different market. Even with my deal, you have a significant amount of cap space available. But I think the advantage that they've had, and that (Duncan) has had and been very fortunate with, is they've had the same guys since he's been there. That really helps."
It's clear to see from Bryant's recent frustration with the Lakers franchise that he would take challenging for a title over making max money, but the draw that Kobe Bryant as an asset is, he deserves the big deal.
Although as Jimmy Spencer of Fox Sports succinctly puts it: