Dual All-NBA and All-Defensive Selections

While doing some research for a future post I got sidetracked looking at players who were named to the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams in the same season.

I thought the results were interesting, so I’m going to post them here with some commentary sprinkled in. Keep in mind that the league began naming All-Defensive teams following the 1968-69 season, so many all-time greats — most notably Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain — will be missing from these lists.

First, here are the players with the most dual All-NBA/All-Defensive selections:

Player Years
Tim Duncan 14
Kobe Bryant 12
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 10
Michael Jordan 9
Gary Payton 9
John Havlicek 8
Hakeem Olajuwon 8
David Robinson 8
Kevin Garnett 8
Scottie Pippen 7
Walt Frazier 6
Jason Kidd 6

The All-Defensive teams are a lot like Major League Baseball’s Gold Glove awards, in that:

  1. once a player gets selected he seems to continue to receive the honor even when his play has slipped, and
  2. even though it’s a defensive award, a player’s offense often seems to be a factor in the choices.

For example, last season Kobe Bryant was an All-Defensive First Team selection, but I have a very hard time believing that a 34-year-old with a lot of mileage on his legs was one of the two best backcourt defenders in the NBA.

Next, here are the players with the most consecutive dual All-NBA/All-Defensive selections:

Player Years Span
Tim Duncan 13 1998-2010
Gary Payton 9 1994-2002
John Havlicek 8 1969-1976
David Robinson 7 1990-1996
Scottie Pippen 7 1992-1998
Kobe Bryant 7 2006-2012
Walt Frazier 6 1970-1975
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 6 1976-1981
Michael Jordan 6 1988-1993
Jason Kidd 6 1999-2004
Kevin Garnett 6 2000-2005

Duncan pulled off this feat for 13 straight season, and then managed to do it again last season — at the age of 36 — after a two-year hiatus.

The longest active streaks belong to LeBron James, who has been named All-NBA/All-Defensive for five straight seasons, and Chris Paul, who has received both honors for three straight seasons.

Now here are the players with the most dual All-NBA/All-Defensive First Team selections:

Player Years
Michael Jordan 9
Kobe Bryant 8
Tim Duncan 7
LeBron James 5
Walt Frazier 4
Jerry West 4
Hakeem Olajuwon 4
David Robinson 4
Kevin Garnett 4
Dwight Howard 4

It’s hard to write off Kobe Bryant, but at this point I think it’s safe to say that Jordan’s record of nine First Team doubles is safe for at least four more seasons.

And here are the players with the most consecutive dual All-NBA/All-Defensive First Team selections:

Player Years Span
Michael Jordan 6 1988-1993
Kobe Bryant 6 2006-2011
Tim Duncan 5 1999-2003
LeBron James 5 2009-2013
Jerry West 4 1970-1973
Dwight Howard 4 2009-2012
John Havlicek 3 1972-1974
Scottie Pippen 3 1994-1996
Michael Jordan 3 1996-1998
Karl Malone 3 1997-1999

Had Michael Jordan not left the NBA following the 1992-93 season to play outfield for the Birmingham Barons, he likely would have been named All-NBA/All-Defensive First Team for 11 straight seasons.

Jerry West was 30 years old and in his ninth season when the All-Defensive teams were first named, so the fact that his name shows up on the last two lists is somewhat remarkable.

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