In all professional level sports, people try to find ways to compare players’ skills and come up with a greatest player of all time. Whether they do this by comparing records and statistics versus rings and other titles, this argument continues to grow across the NBA. In today’s game, it seems like most people value the rings and titles over the actual skill when deciding on the best players. This has resulted in a huge drop in team loyalty, as players hunt for teams that can get them championships so that they can have a legacy.
Although championships don’t make a player the best, it makes complete sense that they are better recognized. Championships force people from around the nation, NBA fans or not, to remember some names. These players are often talked about all of the next season on ESPN, late night shows and even television talk shows like “The Ellen Degeneres Show.” This advertising is one of the main factors for champions getting more recognition as being great, despite whether or not they are on a higher skill level than others around the league.
Another aspect that needs to be considered are bandwagon fans. These are fans that flock towards teams that do well, just because they want to root for winning teams. These fans only increase the popularity of players with rings, versus stats. This is true because both merchandise and all-star voting is largely influenced by fans. By having a considerable amount of bandwagon fans for one team, their ability to sell merchandise only increases. Not only that but the All-Star Game is a huge piece as well. Although it is certain that the best of the best from any team will get in, some teams have more than others. This is usually deserved, but in some cases a player makes it when there are better players that year.
Although rings have really been the determining factor for greatness in the NBA recently, there are some situations that have met the exception. Players like Milwaukee Bucks’ point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook have made this difference. Westbrook took the NBA by surprise in the 2016-2017 season when he averaged a triple double over the course of an entire season, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished for over 50 years. These stats cemented Westbrook’s legacy in the NBA. The other player to become popular with stats over rings is this year’s Eastern Conference All-Star captain Antetokounmpo. Otherwise known as the “Greek Freak,” Giannis has built his reputation on how he plays. Averaging 27 points and nearly 13 rebounds a game, Antetokounmpo is a force. He has been able to create a title for himself as well as a reputation for his team just by playing hard every game.
Although not all people use rings to determine greatness, it is certainly used in the NBA more than skill. From NBA players talking in press conferences to fans buying the t-shirts, winning is what makes a player noticed in the NBA. Hopefully, someday people will realize that a legacy is made by the change that occurs over the league, not just how many shiny rings are on one’s hand.