Stats vs. Rings

May 18,2009
Talia's Blog
Talia Rivera( )

Talia Rivera is a 33-year-old mother of two. As Executive Director of Villages without Walls, she works with high-risk gang members in Boston. [Read more]

While we watched the Los Angeles Lakers play the Houston Rockets in game seven, someone asked, "Who is the greatest basketball player ever?" "Michael Jordan," my brother-in-law said without hesitation. Felix asked, "What makes a basketball player great? Is it his stats or the number of championship rings he’s won?" Assertively and persuasively someone proposed that winning championship rings is what makes you great. "It’s the stats!" Felix disputed. "Robert Horry has seven championship rings. Is he a great player?" "Points, rebounds, assist, blocks -- there isn’t a category that records the number of championship rings collected," he said. We agreed that all basketball players want a championship ring. "However," Felix insisted, "You don’t need a championship ring to be a great basketball player." I had to look into this some more. Okay, Bill Russell is ranked number one for winning eleven championship rings. Michael Jordan is tied with six rings alongside Bob Cousy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Scottie Pippen. Bill Russell was a great basketball player, yet we don’t consider him the greatest and he’s won eleven rings. I looked at Bill’s stats and in thirteen seasons his career high in points are 14,522. I looked at Michael’s as well and in fifteen seasons his career high in points are 32,292. Michael Jordan is "His Airness" because of his stats. He ranks highest in points than every player before him except one, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; and it took Kareem twenty seasons to score the career high of 38,387. Championship rings, Bentleys, houses, six-figure salaries, etc. are just highlights in our lives; they aren’t what make us great. What makes us great is what our stats will read at the end of our lives. So, is Lebron James going to be the greatest basketball player ever? I quote Tommy Beer, "Make no mistake; I believe that by the time he retires, LeBron will likely be considered the best non-center in NBA history not named Michael Jordan. But the lesson we have learned is that we have to let these guys' careers play out." The point is, people need the chance to play out their lives.