The other night Russell Westbrook dropped an insane triple double, culminating 35 points, 14 rebounds, 21 assists on 54% shooting from the field. It was the latest game post all star break which Westbrook turned back the clock to his MVP season.
Yet Stephen A Smith and other NBA talking heads decided to critique Westbrook for not being a champion, rather than praise him for his historic night.
If you are of the mindset that the only thing that defines a legacy is a championship, then fine I don’t mind you having that take. If you truly believe that, god speed to you. But at least be consistent with that mindset, because Stephen A Smith isn’t consistent when it comes to this topic.
Earlier in the week Smith was on First Take shredding the Brooklyn Nets, particularly Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge for joining an already stacked Nets team. He expressed that while he understands the want to win a ring, no star player or former franchise player should accept a lesser role to get a ring.
Only a select few players in each generation are capable of snagging that illustrious ring while being the top guy, and not ring chasing.
Shaq, Kobe, Duncan, Dirk, Billups, Lebron, Wade, Curry and Kawhi are literally the only players since 2000 to win a ring under those prerequisites.
So essentially you have to be a select few of elite of the elite players of a generation avoid his criticism.
Westbrook is a top 10 player of his generation, and a once in a lifetime type of player. His aggressiveness, mentality and will to win are unmatched. But so is his loyalty and need to be the alpha.
Calling him out for not winning a championship, something only Lebron, Curry, Durant, Kawhi and Kobe have done since he’s been in the league is unfair.
Do we immediately critique Chris Paul for not having a ring after he drops 20 points, and 15 assists?
What about Damian Lillard after he drops 50 points and a game winner? Do we say stop shooting from half court and win a ring? We don’t, and Stephen A Smith has gone as far to say Lillard leave Portland, for a chance at winning a ring.
The selective outrage about certain individuals is annoying.
For years the knock against Carmelo Anthony was that he was a ball hog who couldn’t win a ring. Yet he did the complete opposite of ring chase like Aldridge and Griffen. He stayed in New York, way past the time he should have. He could have ran off to Miami with LeBron, or out West with the Spurs. But he chose loyalty and pride.
Even now, at an advanced age with diminished skills, Anthony remains electing to play with a team where his presence is impactful, rather than at the end of the bench for a super team.
So I just want to know Stephen A Smith, which do you prefer:
Super teams or generational talents without championships?
History has proven the two can not co-exist. Ask Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, and Carmelo Anthony. Soon to be Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook.
The elites of the elites (Jordan, Kobe, LeBron) will always win over the regular elites. So how is it fair to cast aspersions against those simple elites for not being Jordan, Kobe, and LeBron? Not winning a ring because a top 10 player is in you’re way is not something that should hinder ones legacy, but build up those great players.
But these aspersions are casted and the players are tired of letting the media control the narrative. Two full generations have watched Barkley get clowned on national television every Thursday night for being great but not winning a ring. They don’t want that same legacy. So they’re taking it into their own hands and stacking the deck to ensure they get that ring.
I don’t like it. Most players don’t like it.
But we can’t criticize those who stack the deck, and criticize the lone star who comes up short despite giving his all.
Pick a side on the debate because the flip flopping makes it impossible for the players to win and for individuals making these arguments to lose.