Last summer, Kevin Durant made the weakest move in the history of sports. After losing to the Golden State Warriors in a very close playoff series, Durant decided to jump ship and join the team that had just beaten him, forming what has become known as a “super team.” At that point, the Golden State Warriors already boasted former most valuable player (MVP) Stephen Curry, as well as Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and an overall healthy bench. While what Durant did was shocking, in the end he had every right to do it.
This was atrend that started in the summer of 2011, when LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade joined forces to form a super team on the Miami Heat. On a side note, it must be stated that to think that LeBron and Durant’s moves were comparable is asinine. LeBron left a franchise that did not provide any serviceable help for a franchise that finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant left an MVP candidate and the third best team in the Western Conference to play for the best team in the National Basketball Association (NBA), essentially a team that was able to win without him. In any case, both moves were weak. There is, however, an explanation as to why LeBron, Durant, and others have left their cozy confines in search of a championship ring.
Go to a middle-aged man who insists Michael Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history, no counter arguments allowed, no matter how logical. Tell him Michael Jordan had help winning those championships. Tell him Jordan played alongside Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, two of the best defenders at their position in NBA history. Tell him that Jordan also played alongside Steve Kerr, owner of the highest three-point shooting percentage over the course of a career. Tell him Jordan only won championships after the decline of the Bad Boys Pistons and Larry Bird’s Celtics. Tell him Jordan and the Bulls lost in the second round of the 1995 playoffs to the Orlando Magic.
Tell him all these things. Do you know what he will respond?
Jordan is 6-0 in the NBA Finals, case closed.
Apparently, winning championships is the only thing that matters when it comes to being considered the greatest. Well, in my opinion, those who have come to overrate the value of winning championships are the ones who have ruined the NBA. Specifically, I am referring to people who think Bill Russell is greater than Wilt Chamberlain because Russel’s teams were more successful, and to people who think Magic Johnson is greater than Larry Bird because Johnson has won more championships. These people believe that they can measure greatness solely by counting the number of championships a player happened to have a hand in winning.
So, to all of the people who say that a player can’t truly be considered great unless he has won multiple championships: you are the reason why Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett came together in Boston, and you are the reason why Chris Bosh sacrificed the opportunity to be a franchise player in Toronto and chose to be an inconsistent third wheel player in Miami. You are the reason why Dwight Howard left Orlando to play with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in Los Angeles, and you are the reason why LeBron James left Cleveland and Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City. You have no one else to blame but yourselves for these frustrating transactions which have reshaped the landscape of the NBA in recent years. The superstar balance in the NBA will only shift back to normal once you stop heaping inordinate praise upon the holder of a championship ring and instantly placing him on a lofty, untouchable pedestal.
So, fans who were upset when LeBron and Durant formed super teams, when they next talk of NBA basketball with their friends, should make sure to point out that, when measuring greatness, it is crucial to account for factors other than the quantity of championships a player has won. It was the failure of fans to do this that has led to the false perception among players that championship rings are the ultimate measure of greatness.
By Efraim Andrew Wakschlag
Efraim Andrew Wakschlag is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, and currently lives in Chicago. He attended the Yeshiva of Greater Washington and graduated from Yeshiva University in 2014. He is a prolific writer on the NBA, and authored “10 Squared: An Unconventional Analysis on the NBA” while attending Yeshiva University.