Stephen Jackson Says He Would Pick Kobe Bryant Over Tim Duncan to Build Team Around

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

Both Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, retired star of the San Antonio Spurs, were  part of five championship squads, but former NBA veteran Stephen Jackson said he would have chosen Bryant to build a team around if given the choice.

On the “Bill Simmons Podcast,” Simmons asked Jackson, who played for 14 NBA seasons with eight different teams, the question. Jackson wasted little time in selecting Bryant over Duncan.

“To build a team around?” Jackson responded. “Me personally, I would go with Kobe. I wouldn’t go with Tim Duncan.”

When asked his reasoning for the selection, Jackson cited Bryant’s unquenchable desire for winning, in contrast to Duncan’s more even-keeled demeanor.

“Well, because of Kobe’s attitude,” Jackson said. “I want somebody with Kobe’s attitude and his approach to the game and to lead my team. Tim wasn’t really too outspoken and Pop (Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich) had to do a lot of that. I had to do a lot of that when I was there. I had to be the protector and the guy to get in guys’ faces. I think that with Kobe Bryant, he’s going to give you everything that you need in one body to lead a team to the championship.

“Pop had to put certain different personalities and different aspects around Tim Duncan for that organization to be who it is. There’s been times where Pop, the second time Pop brought me back, he was like, ‘The main reason I’m bringing you back is because the team needs some nasty. We don’t have no nasty.’ So, Tim was in the right situation. You could put Kobe Bryant in any situation and he’s gonna bring guys along, give them the attitude and more confidence, which Tim did, too. But me personally, I would go with Kobe Bryant.”

Jackson first played with Duncan as a member of the Spurs from 2001 to 2003, then returned from 2012 to 2013. During Jackson’s first stint in San Antonio, the team won the 2003 NBA title, but 10 years later, it lost in a seven-game heartbreaker in the finals to the Miami Heat.

Both Bryant and Duncan are scheduled to be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame this summer, though Bryant’s death in January will make his entry among the greats of the game a posthumous honor.

Choosing either Bryant or Duncan would have provided any team with a huge talent infusion, but it’s clear that Bryant’s fiery personality is something that will never be forgotten.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.