Every young basketball player has dreamt of standing in a confetti filled arena and hoisting that shiny Larry O’brien trophy. Going into the locker room and taking a “champagne shower” with teammates in celebration of finally reaching the ultimate goal, winning the NBA championship.
Players put in hours of hard work, dedication, and grueling practices to one day be honored with the title of champion. However, if the “ultimate goal” is not accomplished, does that mar one’s legacy? Often time’s talented players are pressured by fans, media, and themselves to attain the pinnacle of basketball achievements. But at what point do we start to put value on the process rather than only the result:?
Tracy McGrady, an NBA legend who has played in the league for over a decade, now awaits his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. T-Mac is void of those shiny championship rings. Although McGrady has lead the league in scoring twice, and spent his long career on six different teams, he was unable to win it all. At the peak of his talented career, McGrady was on the path to being one of the top tier players in the league. But plaguing injuries hindered the process. However, McGrady feels differently on the honor of winning the trophy.
“You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with that. But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.”
But is McGrady right?
Winning an NBA championship isn’t as easy as it may seem. Although some players may have found themselves in lucky situations, the fact still remains that reaching the finals and beating your opponent is no easy feat. If it were, McGrady would be a champion. But why do we put so much emphasis on the goal and overlook the process. Why do we judge those who may not have been blessed with “a great team and some luck?”
Instead we should also celebrate with those who have embarked on the journey towards success.
There are so many players who have been blessed with an illustrious NBA career, but with no championship titles under their belt should their careers be looked down on? Or are they less important than those who have won? How important is the end goal if the route is ignored. While it is understood that players play to win, we must understand the path to said win isn’t an easy one.
Should Allen Iverson’s career be seen as incomplete because he was unable to overcome the Shaq/Kobe domination? Or should we acknowledge the road he took to make it to the finals, even with the minimal help from his team. What about the 14-time All-Star, Karl Malone who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010; Malone is 2nd on the All Time Scoring list (36,928) but even being apart of the powerful Stockton/Malone duo, the Jazz were unable to overcome Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Should we disregard their efforts all because they weren’t blessed to take it all? Or LeBron James who’s career is often subjected to ridicule for “only” having three championships even though he’s made the finals eight times. Instead of commending the 8-time final run, we mock the career of a great player.
It is unfortunate that we use a team accomplishment to rate and rank the talent of individual players. So I ask, do championships solidify a legacy?