Speedy Claxton explains difference between Iverson and DuncanSeptember 2, 2018
Speedy Claxton may not be a household name, but he played with some of the best NBA players ever.
The former point guard is a former NBA champion who spent tenures with both the Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs. Along the way, he played in the playoffs with both Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan, two of the best players of the post-Michael Jordan era.
While Duncan established his legacy as the greatest power forward ever as a five-time NBA champion and consummate winner, Iverson exemplified the counterculture at the time and was the symbol of the isolation-ball era. His talents carried the Sixers to a Finals appearance in 2001, the year he won MVP and was seemingly on top of the basketball world.
Although most people consider Duncan higher on the all-time list due to his resume as a winner, Claxton explained that Iverson was so talented that he could single-handedly carry his team to victories, during an interview with Brandon Robinson of Basketball Society:
“Iverson was so talented that he didn’t really trust in his teammates as much as Tim Duncan did.
Tim knew that he was going to need teammates in order to win at a high level. Whereas A.I. [would say] if these dudes aren’t hitting shots, I’m going to take more shots, because I believe in myself more than these guys.
To do what A.I. did; his stature was unbelievable.”
We can all agree that Duncan had the better organization and teammates alongside him. The Spurs have been a winning franchise ever since 1997, and they’ve done so even without Duncan. They advanced to the Western Conference Finals in their first season without TD and have won two Finals series where he wasn’t even the best player on his own team.
In the case of Iverson, he carried seriously undermanned teams. While you can obviously say that Duncan was more unselfish and was the better player to build around when it came to winning, there is no doubt that Iverson’s job in Philadelphia was a lot tougher than Duncan’s duties in San Antonio. Duncan played alongside David Robinson (former MVP and Hall-of-Famer), Tony Parker (former All-Star and Finals MVP) and Manu Ginobili (former All-Star and Sixth Man of the Year) along with playing under the greatest coach of his generation, Gregg Popovich.
As far as Iverson is concerned, his best teammate during his Philadelphia days may have very well been Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo. He also had some solid teammates in Jerry Stackhouse, Kyle Korver and Andre Iguodala along the way, but generally speaking, it was Iverson and only Iverson carrying the load in Philadelphia.
Pundits and observers will remember both players in a different light as far as history is concerned, but based upon Claxton’s opinion, we can probably come to the conclusion that Iverson as an individual talent was superior to that of Duncan