Are you one of those tools who think championship rings determine every sports argument? Do you honestly think Robert Horry is better than Michael Jordan? If this is your only argument, please keep reading. To those who know better, thank you. Lets take a dive in the ring department.
The standard of an NBA Championship was ruined in the 1960’s. Bill Russell and his Boston Celtics won nine out of ten championships in that decade, winning a total of eleven in his historic career. I’m not taking anything away from Russell, what he did is unprecedented, it’ll never be touched. That being said, when the conversation comes up about who’s the greatest, championships are usually the first thing brought up. I get that over his career, he averaged 15 points per game and 22.5 rebounds per game. It still doesn’t mean he’s the greatest of all time.
I bring up Bill Russell, out of respect, as an example. Because he won 11 championships being the leader and sticking to with his team, giving it all up on and off the court. But even though he had such an accomplished career, it doesn’t make him best of all-time. Not by a long shot. Granted, he’s in my top 7 players off all-time. But he played in an era where there wasn’t much talent, it was the very early beginnings of the NBA. Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West were practically his only competition while he had a bunch of hall of famers on his team. But why I rank him in the top 7, but not #1, is because he was #1. He was the alpha dog. But his 11 rings don’t make me think he’s better than lets say MJ, LeBron, or Kareem. Russell had help, he had several hall of famers. He alone didn’t carry the team, and the era he played him only added to the teams dominance. He was a contributor to the team as a whole.
Kareem’s career was also impressive, may I say better than Russell’s. His 6 championships mean more, but don’t tell the whole story. Throughout his historic career, Kareem had the pleasure of playing along side hall of famers. from Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Bob McAdoo, James Worthy, and Jamaal Wilkes to name a few. So Kareem didn’t have to carry a team. He was given help, and no matter how talented he was, him alone with a bunch of average players could not beat any of those Celtics teams they went against, and vice versa.
Michael Jordan couldn’t do it himself. If he never had Pippen, there would be no Jordan and the elite Bulls in the 90’s. Jordan couldn’t beat the Pistons himself. Without Kerr, Jordan wouldn’t have won as much. It takes a team, and Jordan’s 6 championships, while impressive, don’t make me think he’s the greatest of all-time. His individual accolades, and his playmaking ability made him and everyone around him better. If MJ only has 1 or 2 rings, I wouldn’t think twice about calling him best ever. I still don’t. He gave his all every time, something I can’t say about LeBron, the person who changed what a ring meant to many, including me.
LeBron is a phenomenal player, the 2nd best ever. But his first championship in Miami changed what a ring meant. By joining the Heat at age 25, he was ring chasing very early. After only winning 2 rings, and then winning another with Cleveland (with 3 hall of famers again), it seemed like a ring was just something you won, and didn’t determine your legacy. His 3-6 finals record doesn’t bother me. His play on the offensive end is masterful and he’s only gotten better with age, just like wine. The ring is just another accolade, it only adds to his resume, but it doesn’t define it. His defense isn’t at the same intensity as MJs, in fact, he will often lallygag going up the court, which to me make him #2 all-time because I’ve seen his 100% defense, we all have, and that is a different beast. But no matter how good he is, he can’t beat 4 other all-stars, let alone 5.
The Warriors have completely cut off what a ring means. First Durant, now Boogie Cousins. They’re all ring chasers. The ring is something everyone seems to have now. Its like business. The less of a product to go around, the more valuable it is. But once theres a lot of it going around and everyone seems to have it, the less valuable it seems to be. With everyone hoping on the Warriors train to get a ring, it seems like everyone has a ring. People who don’t deserve one seem to get one. (Nick Young especially). Now Boogie, leaves a decent situation in New Orleans, where people still gave him a little respect, now goes to a situation where the Warriors have won twice in a row. Boogie is just a man afraid of the hard work and likes to dog it and join a team that will practically do the work for him. Boogie is a more talented Nick Young.
As dominant as KD has been in his NBA finals career, he still doesn’t crack my top 7. Maybe 10 but I don’t have the time to think about stuff like that. He couldn’t win with a talent like James Harden, let alone Westbrook, and he choked. He couldn’t carry the team when Westbrook was out with injuries. His skill could evolve, but his ring chasing doesn’t determine the type of player he is. His rings won’t be looked at as heavy when its all said and done. He could win 6 rings, and it still wouldn’t change that he will always be behind LeBron.