Only in a nation that smilingly hands out “participation trophies” can winning be so undervalued, discounted, and worthless.
We’re led to imagine that there’s something selfish about winners, something perverse.
It’s as if the desire to win brings out an ugly flaw in man’s character that obscures his otherwise compassionate and altruistic nature.
Still, when a muhfucca says that Michael Jordan is the GOAT – or, as you should know by now, the “greatest of all time” – and you ask him why he thinks this is so, he immediately rattles off “Six rings.”
Well, if you’ve read me on this topic, you know that Jordan is not my GOAT.
I still can’t figure out what math makes Jordan’s 6 somehow more than Bill Russell’s 11 and I gave a bunch of other reasons for Russell.
I also think more compelling arguments than Jordan could be made for Magic Johnson who like Russell won his first chip as a rookie and has 9 Finals appearances, 5 rings 11.2 assist per, 52% from the floor in 13 seasons; Tim Duncan, who won in his second season and with 5 rings that also like Russell featured all 11 of his teammates changing between the time he won his first and the time he won his last; and LeBron James who, going into this season, has spent 54% of his career in the Finals while Mike only spent 40% of his there.
Enter Robert Horry.
Now, while I hate Charles Barkley, my Godbrother hates Robert Horry, famously saying about him “He’s just making the teams even,” and he doesn’t even mean that in the existential sense, he means that literally the appearance of Horry in uniform gives whatever team he’s playing for as many players on the court as the opposition.
And my Godbrother ain’t the only Horry hater.
People love to argue with me Barkley’s ring-free value versus Horry’s.
Horry, who has 7 rings; 2 with the Rockets, 3 with the Lakers and 2 with the Spurs, has the most of any NBA player who’s not Bill Russell nor was a member of the Boston Celtics during Russell’s run.
My ultimate argument becomes, “If you were drafting between Barkley and Horry and you knew that Barkley would do for your team what he did for the 76ers and you knew that Horry would do for your team what he did for the Rockets, which would you choose?”
If you still picked Barkley, you proved yourself a fan of the player and not the team.
But what should you expect when you can read on Twitter that Chris Paul is a Top 5 point guard all-time and Carmelo Anthony is first ballot Hall of Famer?
Carmelo’s only been as far as one Conference Finals while Chris Paul has never even been that far.
What has become the criteria for greatness?
Horry, only a full-time starter his first four seasons with Houston and with a career points per average of 7, has only one eye-popping personal stat; he’s the first player to ever have 100 steals, blocks and three-pointers in a season, but he’s also had a “knack” for not only being in the right place at the right time, but also for winning.
Granted, the House Money mentality from winning that first chip as a rookie in Houston had subsequently put the ice water in his veins that was the impetus behind him being nicknamed “Big Shot Bob”.
Tragically however, even though the NBA and fans are slowly coming around to recognizing and respecting “knack” utility superstars like Dennis Rodman and Draymond Green, the sheer knack for winning has been willfully ignored.
They should fix that.