Re: How valuable is Tim Duncan to the Spurs? Nearly MVP level?
I never said or claimed that there was a logical case for Duncan over Bird. In fact I said the opposite.
As far as Bird/Duncan go in their peaks,
I come back to what exactly wins in the NBA - because that's what I'm interested in, who's going to help me win?
Offensively, Bird's peak was on par with any player in the history of the league. When you factor in scoring, shooting, movement off the ball, passing, post game, etc....Bird is clearly above Duncan.
I then turn to other parts of the game, such as defense....and Duncan has a tremedous edge there against Bird. I ask myself "what wins in the NBA," and defense is CLEARLY at the top of the list. Especially interior defense.
Rebounding is another big thing that contributes to winning basketball. Duncan has a considerable edge there, as well - I know Bird averaged 10+ rebounds, but 10 rebounds back then isn't the same as 10 rebounds in 2000's - and just having watched them a considerable amount....Duncan is one of the finest traffic and fundamental (boxing out) rebounders of all-time. Easily in the 1st class of rebounders ever.
Intangibles/little things - Who really knows? We aren't around them as teammates, or in the locker rooms with them, etc to pass along a educated judgement when comparing both as leaders off the court. What I can tell you is both, for the most part, played big when it mattered. Both were clutch. Both were great on the floor leaders. Both have "it."
If I'm starting a team and I can have Prime Bird or Prime Duncan to build around.... I can't honestly say I'd rather have one or the other. They're that close. It'd be hard pressed to go against the traditional big man, but Larry was so unique and special as well. It's a tough call, that's the point. Nothing "easy" or "clear' about it.
Prime vs. prime is just part of the equation to me, when you dig deeper and compare their accolades and longevity....it really becomes a crap-shoot.