Player Evaluations: Do Championships Determine Greatness?
By: Brandon Williams (WelcomeBack)
The debates are there, but the arguments are dull to say the least. Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James. Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino. The fight for the title of better player is an interesting one.
First, let's check out the Joe Montana/Dan Marino debate. Who is the better quarterback? Many fans would argue that Montana is the better quarterback simply because of the fact that he, indeed, has won Super Bowls. Now, the question arises, how far does that go into an evaluation of individual players? The game of football is a team game. No one player can lead a team to the promised land, and that was the situation with Dan Marino. Marino was an amazing quarterback, but his team was not good enough to go to the final game of the season. Who takes the blame? It certainly shouldn't be Marino. As a player, Marino has held numerous records (career yards, career TD's, passer rating as a rookie, etc.) and has definitely made a case as to why he should be labeled the best quarterback of all time. On to Montana, the player that has the championships. Montana played in 15 seasons, and ended his career with 40,551 yards to go along with 273 TD's. Marino played two seasons longer than Montana, but finished his career with 61,361 yards and 420 TD's. That means Marino, in playing just two seasons, had 20,810 more yards and 147 more TD's than Montana. Montana has 4 rings to Marino's 0, but Marino still outplayed Montana overall. Can you really argue championships when it comes to player evaluation?
Now, to the Kobe Bryant/LeBron James debate. The term of 'ball hog' has followed Kobe since the day Shaquille O'Neal was traded, but is it a fair label? Kobe is a player that thrives off being the best. On a team like the Lakers, where there is hardly any scorers, Kobe is hard pressed to be the one to receive the ball a majority of the time. Is LeBron better than Kobe? Maybe, maybe not. Think of the teams that each player is on, respectively. Which team would do better without their scoring leader? The Cavaliers seem like they would better off than the Lakers. If one were to use the same argument as the Montana/Marino debate, however, Kobe would be the better player. Kobe has 3 rings on his resume to LeBron's 0. I know what will come next, "Kobe had Shaq." Well, in the same instance, Montana had the rest of his teammates in order to win the championships.
So can the amount of championships won be a legit argument in terms of player evaluations? If championships matter for individual players and they determine a better player, than Kobe is light years ahead of LeBron and Montana is better than Marino. If people realize that championships are won by teams, than many will realize the individual greatness of players. Championships are not decided by one player. If Joe Montana had nobody to throw to, hand off to, nobody to block for him and nobody to keep the other team from scoring, he would have won nothing. If Kobe didn't have 4 other players on the court to pass to, pass to him or help defend, he would have won nothing. The use of championships in arguments of a better individual player are invalid beyond belief.
So, the argument that a player with a ring is better than a player without one is moot. Individual success can not be hampered by championships, as those are won by teams.