Something I see and hear a lot in hoop conversations (as well as other sports) is the notion that having great players as teammates devalues other great players
A rather absurd notion if I must say so myself. But I totally understand where the idea stems from
It comes from the mindset of believing all superstars are built to carry teams night in, night out. Which totally goes away from the “team” aspect. And as fans (media included), we’ve simplified it as a measurement for how great a player is. On one hand, it’s cool to look at and review those types of performances in retrospect. But the flipside of that, it still has us stuck in a “Comic Book Superhero” mentality. And it must come to an end 😄😄😄
It’s even gotten so bad over the years that we label the options as fictional superheroes (i.e. Batman and Robin = Mike and Scottie, Shaq and Kobe). That view can fit for a few teams but not for all. Not every team is structured in that kind of pecking order to determine the best offensive option. You have those who have the depth to attack and kill offensively from multiple positions, an they usually go for the most favorable match up (i.e. Showtime Lakers, Popovich’s Spurs from the last 5 years, current Warriors squad)
James Worthy is a great example of this. He was drafted #1 overall to a team who just won the Championship. That team also included a few guys who could play just ‘a lil bit’, such Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Bob McAdoo, Jamal Wilkes (all Hall of Famers). The average fan who never got the chance or taken the time to watch Big Game James would immediately look at his stats and say “17.6 points, 5 boards for a career, his numbers weren’t that great but he was ok”. But then you turn on the footage and you see why they he was coined with the nickname Big Game James (1988 NBA Finals if you really wanna see why)
You can make a more than fair argument that James Worthy would not have the team success without being a member of the Showtime Lakers. You can argue that he wouldn’t have made seven All-Star teams. You can argue he likely wouldn’t be MVP of the 1988 Finals. But guess what…while it’s considered a fair argument, it’s hypothetical.
Fact remains is that his accomplishments as a player are what they are. His career may look totally different if he’s not in Los Angeles at that time. But can we say that he’s any less of a great because he ran the floor and filled the lanes for Magic??? I don’t think so. His game was so much more than that. But what he did do was bring that part of his game that was a strength to help make that team greater than what they were prior to his arrival.
I got a feeling I’ll have more of these examples coming down the pike real soon. So stay tuned…
Published by Jay Hamm
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