As I was browsing through HoopsHype rumors I noticed this quote by Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, "The problem in the NBA, you're judged on winning championships. He's got to try to go and play where they can win a championship or else he's going to be a failure. That's the bottom line." This quote got me thinking, as this is something that has bothered me for some time about the NBA. Throughout some of the discussions on this blog concerning Utah Jazz fandom people were questioning what would make them no longer a Utah Jazz fan. During these discussions I chimed in about this topic of NBA championships.
I want the Utah Jazz to win an NBA championship. I want the Utah Jazz to make decisions and moves with that goal in mind. I want the Utah Jazz to be a successful NBA team that is fun to watch.
I don't want the Utah Jazz to sign players like DeMarcus Cousins, a young Ron Artest or JR Smith because winning a championship is more important than being a role model for future generations. I don't want the Utah Jazz to become the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats or Sacramento Kings.
Only 15 different teams have won the NBA championship since 1958-59, that is 55 years. Of those 55 years, only 5 different teams made up 37 of those 55 championships. My real point is here that not many teams win NBA championships, and when they do it is usually not a repeat. So how come the media, fans and players put so much emphasis on winning a championship?
Lets look at Karl Malone, a hometown favorite. He is a Hall of Fame player who has career averages of 25.0 PPG, 10.1 RBG, 3.6 APG and 1.4 SPG. I would say those are pretty great numbers for a fantastic player. Would Karl Malone winning a championship that final year with the Lakers have catapulted his standing of the all-time greats? Everyone has their own answer but I say no. It would have been an asterisk as he was old and not the central cog on that team.
So, I think we can agree for a championship to matter to a players perception they have to be the main cog of that team that wins a championship. Was Dwayne Wade's second NBA championship as meaningful as his first, once it was LeBron's team? I would say it wasn't as meaningful but was meaningful to him as he was still a main piece needed on that team for their success. However, I would say that championship meant more for LeBron's resume as he was the go to guy. So in order to have a championship REALLY matter to a single player, he has to be the best player on that team or one of the major reasons for their success.
Is Karl Malone lesser of a player in the history books than Tim Duncan? I would say that history will say Tim Duncan is better even though their career averages and regular season success is very comparable, because Tim Duncan has championships.
All of this ranting leads me to my point that it is obvious championships are what give players a leg up in the history books as far as their standing. If all else is equal, that championship will boost them into the next echelon as we don't have any other stats to look at! But should that be all we care about? If you haven't guessed, my answer is unequivocally NO!
If I die without the Jazz ever winning a championship, I won't regret a minute I spent watching their games. They have always had class act players, or got rid of players that were problems (Deron Williams). I know we hear a lot of propaganda from the Jazz FO about their superior way of doing things, but I agree with them for the most part. The Jazz have always tried to be successful and put a good product out on the floor until the transition of Jerry Sloan to Ty Corbin where they are taking a whole new road.
I want my Utah Jazz to play with heart, effort and a love of the game while playing it in the most pure sense it was meant to be played. God gave us two hands so we could pass, shoot and do nasty crossovers. I worry more about the lack of these things in this "year of discovery" than the lack of wins. I am more worried the bad habits, the sulking, the lack of effort and desire will hurt us more than a top draft pick will help us. I don't want to become the turmoil teams such as Cleveland is right now, with young hotshots who have forgotten what is most important about basketball.
A championship may be elusive to the Utah Jazz as it is so many other teams, but a player, coach or team should not be judged solely upon championships. If we do this we are missing what basketball and sports are about, which is teamwork, competition and entertainment. If we base things solely on championships, there will be many more losers than winners and many franchises will be heading the wrong direction. I fear we may become like the repeater lottery teams with a selfish, boring brand of basketball. This is what I worry about most, not if we will win a championship in 3-5 years.