I realize this may contradict what I previously wrote in a recent article. But after some thought, I am even unsure myself.
I wrote about the importance of winning the NBA championship over winning the NBA MVP award. My initial take was that the title was the defining moment in a player's career. With basketball being a team sport, I felt that the MVP award was overrated. I still do feel this way.
BUT, I think the NBA title also can be overrated. It in many cases DOES NOT define a career.
For some it does, however.
Robert Horry for instance, has six rings. He has never been the main man to lead his team, but he has hit several big shots over his career to help his teams win when they needed him the most.
Since 1980, only eight teams have won NBA championships. EIGHT! San Antonio, Miami, Detroit, LA Lakers, Chicago, Houston, Boston and Philly.
EIGHT! That leaves a lot of great players that were not on those teams off the list.
But that in no way makes them less of a player. With a guy by the name of MJ doing his thing, many great players never sniffed a title.
At center: Patrick Ewing. At power forward: Karl Malone. At small forward: Charles Barkley. At shooting guard: Reggie Miller. At point guard: John Stockton. Coming off the bench: Allen Iverson, Chris Mullin, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Kidd.
That would be one of the greatest, if not the greatest team ever assembled that NEVER won an NBA championship. I think they would have little or no trouble taking on the likes of Danny Ferry, Bill Wennington, Chris Jent, BJ Armstrong, and Beno Udrih. Together, that team has a combined ten titles between them.
All of those players got their rings riding the coattails of different NBA superstars. When you think of the Chicago Bulls, immediately you think of Jordan and Pippen. When you think of the Houston Rockets, your first thought is Hakeem Olajuwon. And when you are thinking about the Spurs, Tim Duncan is the man.
I get tired of hearing how athletes like John Elway needed to win the Super Bowl to define his career. He was great before and great after. Dan Marino never won the big one. Is he less of a quarterback because of that? Of course not.
I suppose by that thinking, Trent Dilfer will go down as one of the greatest. If Barry Sanders had the offensive line that Emmitt Smith had in Dallas, how many rings would he possibly have?
Titles and championships do not define the player. His play on the field is what will make people remember him, not a ring that is often times sold for the extra cash.
Titles, championships, and MVP awards are nice. But not winning those does not make a great athlete any less of a player.