A Thing I Don't Understand (on Winners)

Discussion in 'Pistons and NBA' started by professor, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. professor

    professor Bench Warmer Forum Donor

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    So in sports we frequently make judgments about an individual player (whose individual talent is beyond question) based on the number of championships that teams he or she has played on have won (or the depth or frequency of post-season runs). And we rank such players less highly than other players (of comparable or perhaps even inferior individual talent) whose teams have won championships, etc..

    My question is how does this work? I mean, specifically, how do these judgments that we make work?
  2. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    If you are consistently a winner, the theory is that you're probably doing something that isn't showing up in the stats.

    In business, if you are constantly a winner and nobody know why, then you're probably a crook like B. Madoff.
  3. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    :rofl:
  4. professor

    professor Bench Warmer Forum Donor

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    Doing what?

    It might have helped if I'd clarified "winner" and "consistently". I'm not talking about Bill Russell or Michael Jordan level team domination here. I'm talking about the grayer area, occupied by more players, including some of our own past and present, whose teams have certainly experienced success (winning regular season records, playoffs, sometimes deep playoff runs, sometimes a championship, maybe even two).

    I'm sorry I'm deliberately steering clear of specifics because I really don't want to get into a debate about individuals (but rather to reflect on how we make the judgements we make in such debates, how strong the arguments in those debates really are), but just to give two different examples: Is Tony Parker (3 rings) more of a winner than Chauncey Billups (1 ring)? Are Allen Iverson and Steve Nash equally unwinners (no rings, one final appearance for Allen) or equally winners (playoff appearances)?

    I guess it's always seemed weird to me that these judgments get made in a team sport, where not only are individuals dependent on their teammates, but also dependent on choices and decisions made by coaches, general managers, and owners. I mean, in other words, I get that Tiger Woods is not only super-talented individually but also a winner. I get it for tennis, golf, track. But I just don't get it for team sports. It feels like a strange "black box" like in science. We don't really know what's in there, but because we don't have any other explanation, we just chalk it up to this mysterious vague quality that we attribute to some very talented individuals and not to other, equally talented individuals.

    And so I'm suspicious. Part of my general suspicions these days about the ways in which sports fans and journalists offer rationalizations for what are essentially and inevitably irrational judgments. Not that I have a problem with irrational judgments -- only with those who make them and then pretend they haven't; that they've actually made a rational judgment.
  5. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    It's like a big +/- problem. If you lead your team in +/- at the end of the season, you are probably doing something right... but not necessarily. There is a slight chance that you just were consistently in the right place at the right time and got carried by others.


    In your question, if a guy like Sheed finds himself in the playoffs every single year with multiple teams, then did he just get really lucky, or was he doing more for those teams that we can see? Cliff Robinson is another good example of this phenomenon. The real answer is that it was probably a combination of luck and effectiveness.

    To answer your question, the things that these types of players might be doing that you can't see are:
    • Playing good help defense
    • acting as a deterrent on defense by just being on the court
    • acting as a decoy on offense by being a 3-point threat
    • setting screens
    • being a leader in the locker room
    • mentoring other players
    • being unselfish on the court
    • taking care of yourself and/or playing through pain
    • pointing things out to the coaching staff that you see on the floor
    There are a million things like this. Some players buy in and some never do.
  6. The Palace Artest

    The Palace Artest First Round Draft Pick

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    One way a person can go about it is that the players are generally defined by moments, regardless of how good the player truly was. This is probably why guys like Chris Webber are often thought as "losers."

    I truly think that is the microscope in which things are viewed by sports fans, at least on the surface. And it's probably reasonable to suspect that the media has a hand in branding players as well. If you see someone's face plastered all over posters, video game covers, commercials etc., the casual fans/consumer is probably going to do their homework, and ask themselves "what have these guys accomplished?" If a player's popularity is determined on their marketability and talent, as opposed to their merits and accomplishments after the fact, then I believe that there is more pressure on that player to succeed, and live up to their fame. This may explain why Peyton Manning was viewed as a loser for many years, at least up until XLI; after the Colts won, all that we heard about was how the Colts/Dungy/Manning got the monkey off their backs. And take guys like TP, Chauncey, Ben Wallace... guys who were donned video game covers and other endorsements (that Subway commericial, which was basically a 30 second timeslot for Tony to flash his rings) after winning championships...

    Good topic though. There are many answers to this question, with almost all of them being completely arbitrary.
  7. Star Jones

    Star Jones First Round Draft Pick

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    In my opinion, only recently have fans been able to deflate or inflate an entire career based on a championship. My goodness how many great, great, great players have never won a championship?

    There was a time when a career was looked upon in its entirety and with some context, but now, the ring is the thing. There are people that will mess around and rank PGs higher than John Stockton because he never won. There were people that used to question Michael Jordan until he won. Charles Barkley is still one of the greatest PFs ever.

    And, oh how some have been blown up to dream like levels because they have won. Kenny Smith was okay, but he has two. Samaki Walker has a championship ring. Outside of his relatives and Spurs fans, you won't be able to find 15 people in a hour's time that would know that. You might not find 15 people that know who Samaki Walker is.

    I can't stand Kobe, but it's unfair to now question whether he can win a championship without Shaq.* How many hoops does he have to jump through?

    There was this football player on some show talking about how he always wears his NFC Championship ring and someone tried to make him feel stupid for doing so. No longer was getting to the Super Bowl enough, since he didn't win, he shouldn't celebrate the accomplishment.


    *While it is unfair, I know it gets under Kobe's skin, so I encourage any and everyone to remind him that he hasn't won a championship without Shaq. :bounce:
  8. SmartIversonFan

    SmartIversonFan Second Round Draft Pick

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    ^ i judge players on individual accomplishments. i'm the kind of guy that
    never thinks the MVP is the "best player on the best team." i only
    give credit to someone for a championship if he had a huge role in
    winning the championship. i.e., dwyane wade's ring, when he single-
    handedly crushed the mavericks, legitimizes him as a great player in my
    own eyes. kobe always needs great players from top to bottom on his
    championship teams. he floundered and whined when he got a weak
    lakers roster for a few years, and now i will forever perceive him
    as the most overrated basketball player of all time.

    *bows*
  9. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    Just one hoop without Shaq helping him. :bow1:
  10. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    Here's a pretty funny quote from Stackhouse that speaks to this subject.

    An example of someone thinking they are a winner, when they were really just a teammate of winners.
  11. BillLaimbeer

    BillLaimbeer All-Star 4x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    It's fun to dog jerks like Charles Barclay and Karl Malone, even though they were superstars, just because they don't have rings.

    For every superstar without a ring, however, there is a great, classy athlete (Antonio McDyess, Dan Marino, etc.) that I would label as a winner even though he doesn't have a ring.

    You can't have it both ways, though. Good topic.
  12. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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  13. NYPistonFan729

    NYPistonFan729 Bench Warmer Forum Donor

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    This picture is why I hate Dallas, This player should never had won a championship. But he will always be a winner because was a part of a championship team.
  14. basketbills

    basketbills All-Star Forum Donor

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    Glenn Robinson:


    [​IMG]


    is a winner.
  15. BillLaimbeer

    BillLaimbeer All-Star 4x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    Winner:
    [​IMG]

    Winner:
    [​IMG]

    Winner:
    [​IMG]
  16. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    [​IMG]

    Here's a couple winners!

    (For the new fans here, the guy with Stuckey's number was a role player from years past. The guy on the right was a practice player who played a key part in helping the role players stay in shape, which enabled them to assist MVP Chauncey Billups during his triumphant march to the title in 2004.)
  17. BallDon'tLie

    BallDon'tLie All-Star 3x Fantasy Champion

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    Darvin Ham > than Charles Barkley & Karl Malone COMBINED!
  18. BillLaimbeer

    BillLaimbeer All-Star 4x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    Exactly, BDL. I'm sure that post alone will shine the light on the confusion that Professor was having about winners....
  19. Latinoking90

    Latinoking90 Bench Warmer

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    Isn't Darko the youngest guy in NBA history to win a championship? :gaah:
  20. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    And the rule change makes it impossible to break this record.

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