In Defense of the King: The Myth About Winning NBA Championships Alone
LeBron James has been the recipient of much criticism since announcing his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join fellow superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
Many have suggested that, in order to cement his legacy, he needs to win an NBA Championship by himself. That is, without any other NBA superstars.
They suggest that he cannot possibly compare to some of the other NBA greats otherwise.
The purpose of this article is to debunk that argument with cold, hard numbers.
The thought that many of the NBA's best players have won championships by themselves is a myth.
Listen to this.
The first 40 NBA Championship teams (1950-1990) had an average of 3.875 Hall of Fame players on their roster.
Not All-Stars. Hall of Famers.
We're talking about the best NBA players to ever play the game.
Several teams had as many as seven Hall of Fame players on their roster, and one even had eight (1962-63 Boston Celtics).
And keep in mind that these numbers can only get higher as players continue to get voted into the Hall of Fame.
In the first 40 years of the NBA, only three championship teams currently have only one player from their roster voted into the Hall of Fame.
These teams are the 1975 Warriors led by Rick Barry, the 1977 Trailblazers led by Bill Walton, and the 1979 Supersonics led by Dennis Johnson.
None of these teams won multiple championships.
They benefited from playing in the league after the days of Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson, but before the days of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan.
And don't think that these weren't talented teams.
Rick Barry had the help of Jamaal Wilkes, a four-time NBA champion who has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame and is likely to get in.
Bill Walton had the help of four-time All-Star Maurice Lucas while Dennis Johnson had the help of seven-time All-Star Jack Sikma. Both of these players have been campaigned as Hall of Fame worthy.
Now, we can't really judge the 20 championship teams that have come since then, because most of those players aren't even eligible for the Hall of Fame yet.
We can't know who of the current players will or won't be Hall of Famers, especially the ones who still have a lot of career in front of them.
But we do know that the Chicago Bulls dynasty already has two in the Hall of Fame with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
The Lakers dynasty will get, at the very least, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
The fact is, no one has ever won multiple championships without the help of a Hall of Fame teammate.
All LeBron has done is put himself on the same playing field as the rest of the NBA greats.
He has given himself a chance to team up with another Hall of Famer or two and try to win a few titles.
I mean, really, if you want to talk about a true superstar team, look at the 1973 Knicks (Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, Earl Monroe, & Jerry Lucas) or the 1986 Boston Celtics (Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, & Bill Walton), or the 1963 Celtics (Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Frank Ramsey, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Clyde Lovellette, & John Havlicek).
The 2010-11 Miami Heat don't even come close. If you figure that Wade, Bosh, and James each make the Hall of Fame (not at all a guarantee), that still puts them below average at just three Hall of Famers on the roster.
So in defense of the King, I say, let these three superstars see what mark they can make on an NBA history full of super teams.
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