The State of the NBA: The Definition of Success

ShoreBall EnterprisesContributor IApril 9, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29:  Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners drives to the basket by Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional Final at the FedExForum on March 29, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Last week I was listening to the Dan Patrick radio show and Reggie Miller was a guest. I was sitting at work, mildly paying attention to the show, until Reggie said something that really caught my attention.
He stated that, in his opinion, Tyler Hansbrough will have a better professional career than Blake Griffin. He used the argument that Hansbrough will be drafted later in the first round and has a better chance of going to a team that has a chance to win a championship, while Griffin will be going to a lottery team that more than likely will not win a championship.

That premise really had my mind racing.  What is the definition of success in terms of an NBA career?  Would you rather have a Hall of Fame career with no championships or be a role player who wins multiple championships? Would you rather be Reggie Miller or Steve Kerr?


Of course, those are personal questions that will have different answers depending on the person. It speaks to each individual person’s definition of success.


Personally, I would choose the Hall of Fame career, and I find it hard to believe that Reggie Miller would trade in his Hall of Fame credentials for a couple of championships as the eighth or ninth man on the bench.


Keep in mind, I’m not talking about a guy like Robert Horry, who won seven championships in his career—two as a starter with the Houston Rockets, three as a borderline starter/sixth man with the Lakers, and two as the sixth or seventh man with the San Antonio Spurs.


I’m talking about a guy like Stacey King, who was the eighth or ninth man on the Bulls' first three-peat teams, or Mark Madsen, who won two championships with the Lakers but is remembered more for his victory parade dances than anything that he did on the court. Basically, I'm talking about the role player who doesn’t know from game to game whether or not he will even play.


It is an interesting concept to contemplate. Again, I would take the Hall of Fame career in a heartbeat, but that is my personal preference. Ultimately, the answer is based on each person’s individual definition of success.


Dan Patrick and Reggie Miller placed a friendly wager on the subject with the measure being the player who has the most All-Star appearances. Based on that criteria, I think I have an idea of who will win that wager—but I guess success is in the eye of the beholder.