With the 2011 NBA Finals featuring two of the league’s biggest superstars who have yet to win a title (LeBron and Dirk), I hear the phrase “He deserves to win a title” thrown around a lot. It got me thinking…does anyone really “deserve” to win a title?
Do Titles Define a Career?
Legacies are seemingly born, raised and killed on the idea that a player must win a championship to be great. It took Peyton years to get the monkey off his back and win a title, but was anyone truly questioning his greatness during the years before he won a title? Dan Marino never won a title, yet he holds or at one time held just about every major QB record out there. On that same token, there are seemingly quite a few players who won a championship that nary a sports fan would dare to call them great.
Championships are a Team Achievement
At the end of the day, unless you are a tennis player or a golfer, a championship is a team effort. Kobe doesn’t get to keep his own personal Larry O’Brien trophy. Jeter doesn’t have a World Series Trophy sitting on his mantle. But walk into the lobby of a championship team’s office and you will see these trophies there. A tribute to the team, not just one individual player.
I say all of that to get to this point. I am hard pressed to say that any single player deserves to win a championship. Sure, there are players that I would like to see win a title, but when push comes to shove, championships aren’t owed, they are won. This is why we have personal records completely separate from team accomplishments. Scoring titles, free throw percentage, and blocks do not equal championships. Dirk and LeBron have had amazing careers, and we have their personal numbers to show for it, but it will come down to whose team wants it the most. This isn’t going to be a one on one game (technically one on three) to decide it all. Bench players will have to step up on both sides, coaches will have to make the right decisions in crunch time, and every single player must do their part to win a championship – a championship that ultimately belongs to the team.
So whether you root for the Heat or the Mavericks in this year’s NBA Finals, don’t let yourself be tricked into thinking that one player deserves this title more than another.