Written By Clifford Santa Monica

I’ve always thought using “How many rings does he have?”  as the litmus test of an individual’s greatness is mentally lazy. In other words, if you can’t make up your mind whether a player belongs in Canton or Cooperstown, or in this instance Dr. Naismith’s Hall of Fame, just add up the total number of rings that player has and render a judgment. But that approach is flawed in at least two glaringly obvious ways. For one thing there are scores of great players in all sports whose teams never won championships that were great by any common sense reckoning. A short list of players who never secured championship rings or Stanley Cups include Dan Marino, Chris Carter, Eric Dickerson, Anthony Gonzalez, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Charles Barkley, Connie Hawkins, Nate Thurmond, George Gervin, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Ernie Banks, Barry Bonds, Marcel Dionne, Darryl Sittler, Bjorge Salming, Gil Perrault and Pavel Bure. Conversely, would any sane commentator consider a scrub like Devean George, (who has THREE championship rings) to be a better forward than Elgin Baylor or Charles Barkley?? Or is Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants a better shortstop than Ernie Banks because he has a chip and Ernie doesn’t? I think not. The related hole in the championship ring argument is the composition of the team that you’re playing for. Individuals CANNOT win championships. TEAMS do. Michael Jordan didn’t win a god-damned thing until the roster around him improved through astute trades and the experience that comes through playing together and players on those teams learning to make certain concessions—PERIOD.


As for LeBron leaving Cleveland because he thought he’d have a better chance to win a championship in Miami—he was right. Because the way the Cavaliers were built they were NEVER going to win a championship no matter how well LeBron played. LeBron recognized the fact that OTHERS would never give him his due because of the (in my view) false, inflexible standard of not being thought great until you’ve won a championship burden the media foists on athletes—mostly because it’s so simple and allows observers to abdicate their duty to THINK







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