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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Champion Debate

Perhaps I'm just bitter, but the Miami Heat's championship has me again considering "Championships Won" when factored into a player's assessment.

The Heat is chocked full of players who have had all-star careers, but have now won a championship passed their prime. Just take a look at a couple of the players who match this assessment:
    Alonzo Mourning
In the finals, Zo "contributed" 11 minutes per game, 4.3 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. (Compared to career averages of 32.6 mpg, 18.3 ppg and 9.1 rpg.) Alonzo was once one of the most dominating centers in the league (with the Charlotte Hornets and before his kidney failure with the Heat). Granted, his illness probably cut some of his dominance short, but had it not, would he really be on a roster that also includes Shaq?
    Gary Payton
Payton's finals numbers: 2.7 points a game, 2 assists a game, 1 steal a game in 22.3 minutes per game (Career averages: 16.9 ppg, 6.9 apg, 1.9 spg in 36 mpg). The decline in Payton's game is more visible, since he played more minutes than Zo did. Payton will be remember for his clutch shot in this finals, but it's important to also remember that was one of only seven shots he made the entire series. Probably more notable, is that "The Glove" was regularly abused by opposing point guards throughout this playoffs. Payton certainly has a Hall of Fame resume, but his championship came as a role player (of similar or less skill than Jason Williams).
    Antoine Walker
Though I like his game the least of these three, he could probably make the case that this championship should be accounted into his potential Hall of Fame resume. Walker's finals numbers were closer to his career numbers (13.8/19 ppg, 5.5/8.3 rpg, 3.9/2.2 apg) though he also played closely to his career minutes per game (36.5/37.5). You could either argue that his skills have considerably diminished (which I believe they have) or that he finally fit well into a role player/third option position (which he did). At one time in his career, Walker was one of the more well-rounded players in the league. His championship, however, did not come while he brought that skill set to the team, but rather a much smaller level of dominance.

I am not trying to claim that Miami, or these specific players do not deserve this championship (though I am still disappointed with the Stackhouse suspension and the odd foul disparity of Game 5). Miami beat some really good teams on their road to the championship, and that should not be discounted. But I am sick of the conversation where a player is considered greater than another simply because they won a championship.

Does Payton's championship as a shell of his former self really end the debate whether he or Jason Kidd is better?

Is Antoine Walker a step closer to Karl Malone, Charles Barkley or Kevin Garnett because he now has a ring?

Is Zo clearly better than Patrick Ewing now that he won a championship, even if it was as a role player?

So please don't claim a player is better simply because he has won more championships, for those rings may have come when he wasn't even playing his best ball.


  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I agree, dude!

    Seriously, I agree that a player's greatness should not be based on how many championships a guy has won.

    With that logic, the newly-crowned Michael Doleac would have a greater career than Karl Malone.

    The Heat benchwarmer Jason Kapono would be considered superior to Chris Mullin, John Stockton, or Dirk Nowitzki.

    And, of course, Grace College alum Chet Kammerer would be easily a better Hoop Executive than the great Jerry Sloan.

    I'm not buying it.

    I say titles only enhance the resumes of players who START and really CONTRIBUTE. And I agree that they are not the "trump card" for evaluating a player's career.

    While Antoine Walker may now brag to Sir Charles about his ring, only Barkley deserves Hall of Fame consideration.

    Also, I should add that Hall of Fame players should go into the Hall wearing the uniform they wore the most.

    Payton should be in a Sonics uniform.
    Zo should be in a Hornets or maybe Heat uniform.
    Shaquille should be in a Laker uniform.

    And if, by some ridiculous scandal, employee #8 gets into the Hall, he should be wearing Celtic Green.

  • At 11:43 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I can think of 100 players who should be in the Hall of Fame before Antoine Walker.

    Let's start with Adrian Dantley.

    It took the league WAY too long to get Dominique Wilkins into the Hall... we shouldn't even mention Walker.

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Here's an interesting question: Who is the best NBA player (with more than 5 years of playing experience) never to win an NBA title?

    Some that come to mind...

    Karl Malone
    John Stockton
    Charles Barkley
    Dominique Wilkins
    Kevin Garnett
    Allen Iverson
    Clyde Drexler
    Alex English
    Bernard King

  • At 12:30 PM, Blogger TheReformedThinker said…

    Not much an NBA fan, but agree totally...being more of a baseball fan myself look locally at Griffey Jr...548 HR's (11th on all time list - 40 away from top 5). 1572 RBI's, SLG percent 560, 10 time gold glove winner, 12 time all star, and most likely will never win a ring. Does that mean that he is not a hall of famer like Phil Ruzzito who is in the hall with 38 HRs, 563 RBIs but 8 rings with the Yankees...by the way I think Phil should be kicked out of the hall for such pitiful numbers!

    Championships don't mean nothing when it comes to the greatness of the individual player. Championships say more about the coach then anyone else.

  • At 3:47 PM, Blogger David said…

    Gary, I like your list, but I would add Kevin Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller.

  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    drexler won a championship in 95.

    but it kind of makes my point. by then, though still decent, he wasn't the most intrigal part of that championship run (since they had the year before without him).

    i agree with david--ewing and miller need to be on the list (as much as it kills me to type that). not sure about kj.


  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Good point about Drexler.

    Ewing - definitely should be on the list.

    Reggie Miller - probably not.

    The list included potential players who might be the "BEST" player without a ring.

    I would easily pick Ewing, Mailman, Barkley, and Stockton over Reggie Miller. Wouldn't you?

  • At 10:32 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    so are you narrowing your list down to those 4?

    seems like iverson, drexler, wilkins and english don't belong in that elite company either.

    and while i have no idea about king (was that back when they had to climb a ladder to remove the ball from an actual peach basket), it does bring up a point...our list is probably incredibly short sighted.

  • At 10:59 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I would contend that Iverson, Drexler, English, and Wilkins were all better players than Reggie Miller. Maybe that's just a matter of opinion, but that's my opinion.

  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    but are they in the same class as barkley, malone, stockton?


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