It’s All in the Game: Ring Chasing with the NBA Elite

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 NBA’s elite put their blood,

sweat, and tears into a lifelong journey for jewelry.

In today’s 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 doesn’t have a ring yet. Neither does Steve

Nash, or Allen Iverson. All of them have MVP’s, but all of them would trade in

their bronze statue for diamonds.

NBA MVP’s 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 didn’t 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.

Today’s 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. Allen’s 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. He’s 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.

They’ve had incredible careers filled with everything but a championship. They’ve

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.