NBA players are judged by their bling. They leave their
legacies on that all important digit next to the pinky. Presidents and CEOs may
be judged on bank accounts and stock prices, but the NBAs elite put their blood,
sweat, and tears into a lifelong journey for jewelry.
In todays world of free agency and big money contracts,
more and more stars are finding gold in a mine other than the one they called
home for most of their careers.
So does that compromise their legitimacy, or is it a reward
for otherwise impeccable body of work?
Before you question the loyalty of high-profile players who
skip town to chase a dream with another franchise, put it in perspective with major
players from any other industry.
Jay-Z left Rocafella and Def Jam. Whitney left Bobby. Hell,
George Clooney left ER to become a
movie star. People work hard to improve their situations. Athletes are no
Kevin Garnett doesnt have a ring yet. Neither does Steve
Nash, or Allen Iverson. All of them have MVPs, but all of them would trade in
their bronze statue for diamonds.
NBA MVPs of yesteryear started the trend of ring chasing.
Barkley left Philly to get a ring in Phoenix,
but MJ had other plans. So off he went to Houston, only to have John Stockton
blow out the candle on that dream with a legendary buzzer-beater to send the
Rockets home for good.
Karl Malone spent 18 years in Utah trying to get a ring and came close
twice. But he didnt want to hang up his sneakers until he validated his career,
so he packed his bags for L.A. to try to win a championship with Shaq and Kobe.
Unfortunately, a sprained knee, and some team drama meant Chauncey and Sheed
got to sport the bling.
Todays game has several superstars vying for a championship
with new teams. Garnett and Ray Allen have an excellent chance to win a title
in Boston, even though they spent the bulk of their careers in other cities. In
fact, until this year, KG had only advanced past the first round once in his
illustrious career. Allens best shot came in Milwaukee in 2001, falling to
A.I. and the Sixers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Speaking of Iverson, he left the City of Brotherly Love in
the hopes of finding a ring buried in the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately for
him, until that team learns to play some defense, he might as well be searching
for a needle in a haystack.
Not every superstar that has left their long time employer
searching for greener pastures has come up empty handed. Clyde Drexler was
twice denied a championship in Portland before
teaming with the Hakeem the Dream for a ring in Houston. Gary Payton had also been to the
finals twice before learning that the third time is a charm with Miami in 2006.
Can you blame either one of them? Long regarded as greats at
their position, they just needed some ice-ing on the cake to cement their
place in history.
And now Garnett and Allen are doing the same. They took
advantage of a unique situation where they could team with Paul Pierce to form
a three-headed monster that no one wants a piece of. And they are doing it
together. All three have sacrificed individual statistics, instead focusing on
defense and team unity to put together a championship run.
Tim Duncan is known for being unselfish. Hes shared the
rock, now he needs to share the jewelry. If Greg Foster, Jacque Vaughn, and
Darko Milicic can have rings then KG, AI, and Nash deserve one too.
If they do bring the title back to Boston, KG and Ray Ray will have earned it.
Theyve had incredible careers filled with everything but a championship. Theyve
put their heart and soul into this game.
The Big Ticket and Jesus Shuttlesworth as NBA champions? Now
that has a nice ring to it.