Who’s the Greatest of All-Time? We’re Still Searching
By Derek James (@DerekJamesNBA)
With LeBron James’ loss in the 2014 NBA Finals, he now falls to 2-3 all-time in NBA Finals. This is a problem because it throws a wrench into our greatest player ranking system that is so pivotal to our society. With this system we have order, laws and organization. Without them, however, we are no different than the animal kingdom. Thanks to LeBron, we have now realized that there are no great players and our world as we know it will descend more rapidly into chaos now because of it.
It has been revealed to us that these supposedly great players have all failed at some point, which is unacceptable. There is no reason that one player cannot overcome the deficiencies of his teammates to defeat any opponent. After all, with these players, matchups, strengths and weaknesses matter not. And now it has become known that no player in history has been able to reach this level of achievement.
Let’s take a closer look.
Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain
I feel like it’s only fair to mention these two men together since they were both considered the greatest players of their time. Russell won an astounding 11 titles while Chamberlain won a paltry…two (cute, isn’t it?) Yet, Chamberlain was shipped from team-to-team his entire career, unlike Russell, and spent much of his career trying to get out from the Celtics center’s shadow.
As for Russell, he lost his first Finals appearance and had to endure the embarrassment of falling short in the divisional round of the 1967 playoffs. I mean, you’ve won nine straight Finals, how hard could getting 10 be? He could have at least got there.
Clearly, neither of these men are cut out to be the GOAT, so let’s move on.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
Let’s keep the doubles going here with the two biggest stars of the ‘80s. Bird and Johnson’s battles were legendary and both men had great careers. Unfortunately, neither could really separate themselves from the other in the history books. Bird won three titles, but lost in the Finals twice. As for Johnson, he won three—often getting the better of Bird –but also lost twice, and had to ride Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s coattails to the 1980 NBA title.
Close guys, but we demand a higher grade of GOAT at this table.
Oh, yes, not even His Airness is above reproach. Jordan may be 6-0 all-time in the Finals, but he missed the playoffs in his first season (Heck, Magic won a title as a rookie) and took him seven seasons overall to even make the playoffs. Even then, he needed help from Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson to even get there.
Jordan was great, no doubt, but perfect he was not, and that’s all we’re really asking for.
Ah, the first triple double machine. Robertson won just one title in his 13-year career and lost one other Finals. The one title that Robertson did win, he, like Magic Johnson’s rookie year, needed to ride Kareem’s coattails to do so. The Bucks would make it back to the Finals the next year, but fail to repeat like some of the other greats were able to do. Finally, in his last season, Robertson retired after the Bucks lost in yet another Finals.
The Big ‘O’? How about The Big No.
Ah, Kobe. Five rings and one MVP, but he’s still “Mr. Dude, Where’s My Sidekick?.” If it weren’t for Shaq, he may not even have three of those championships. Bryant’s production is among the best of his generation, but his co-dependence on other star players and lack of MVPs tell us that those stats ring hollow.
Greatest of All-Time? Please, he may not even be the best player in Lakers history.