Hall of Fame 2021: Defining the careers of Kobe, KG and Duncan
A group of basketball legends will be immortalized this weekend, highlighted by three of the NBA's greatest all-time talents.
Chris Broussard is back to give his take on the legacies of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan ahead of Saturday's enshrinement at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
1. Kobe Bryant has given us countless memorable moments, whether it's the 81-point game, the 50-point game streak, or the five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. What is your all-time favorite Kobe moment?
Broussard: My greatest Kobe memory is one of his most underrated moments. It happened during his first trip to the NBA Finals, when the Lakers beat Indiana 4-2 in 2000. After injuring his ankle in Game 2 and sitting out Game 3, the Kobe legend was born in Game 4.
It wasn’t just that the 21-year-old played 47 minutes on that bad ankle, or that he scored 28 points, including 22 in the second half and OT, on that bad ankle. It was that after Shaq fouled out with 2:33 left in overtime, Kobe took over. Kobe went iso and scored on three straight possessions, then sealed the victory with an offensive rebound and reverse layup put-back, giving the Lakers a 3-1 lead in the series en route to winning the first title of the Shaq-Kobe dynasty.
That’s when everyone knew Kobe was tough and clutch, two attributes that he’d display time and time again during his fantastic career.
2. What is the one thing about Kobe that defined his career?
Broussard: His unshakeable belief in himself. I mean, how many rookies would have the guts to shoot four airballs in the critical moments of a playoff game when you have a teammate named Shaquille O’Neal? Most players would have stopped shooting after the second airball, but Kobe always believed in himself – all the way up to the final game of his career, when he scored 60 points on 50 shots!
3. Kevin Garnett carried the Minnesota Timberwolves to their most successful era of basketball and won his only MVP as a member of the franchise. But he also helped the Boston Celtics end a 20-year championship drought. Will you remember Garnett most as a member of the Wolves or the Celtics?
Broussard: He was definitely great and put up his best individual numbers with Minnesota. But there’s no question that I’ll remember KG more as a Celtic because that’s where he won his lone NBA championship and competed in another NBA Finals. And on a personal note, I accompanied the 2007-08 Celtics – the first year of the Big Three and the season they won the title – on their training camp trip to Rome while writing a story for ESPN The Magazine. It was an awesome experience.
4. What is the one thing about KG that defined his career?
Broussard: Intensity. The effort, the energy, the yelling, the screaming. KG’s passion for the game was evident whenever he played. I was once told a story about him sitting out a practice with the Nets due to injury. While his teammates went up and down the floor during a five-on-five scrimmage, the injured Garnett moved up and down the sidelines with the team yelling instructions and encouragement. He did everything at 110% during his terrific career.
5. Duncan's overall stats and championships paint him as a clear top-10 all-time player. But he only averaged 25 PPG one time in his storied career. However, the Spurs never won less than 50 games in any season he played with the franchise. Is Tim Duncan the most selfless superstar of all time?
Broussard: He’s one of them. Steph Curry, Magic Johnson and Julius "Dr. J’’ Erving are others. But yes, it’s true Duncan could have put up bigger individual numbers than he did. But like Magic, who could have scored more, and Dr. J, who could have shot more, and Tom Brady, who could have made more money, Duncan put aside his individual stats and desires in order to win. He was all about winning championships, and his 5-1 record in the Finals is evidence of that.
6. What is the one thing about Duncan that defined his career?
Broussard: His calm demeanor on the court. Some took Duncan’s lack of histrionics as a lack of competitiveness, which could not have been further from the truth. He was one of the greatest competitors ever and definitely had a killer instinct. He just displayed it differently and in the process, created a culture in San Antonio that enabled the Spurs to become one of the greatest dynasties in league history.
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