View Full Version : You Play To Win The Game...A Rant on Evaluating the GOAT

10-15-2013, 05:23 PM
In a team sport, notice the word SPORT, you PLAY...TO WIN...THE GAME.

You don't play to look cool, or pad stats, or achieve All-Star status. If you're NOT playing to win the game, then you're playing to lose...selfishly I might add.

What always pisses me off is when guys on BSPN ALWAYS say things like "Bill Russell is the greatest winner" of all time, but not the greatest player.

I'm sorry, last I checked YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. How the hell can you literally WIN more than anyone else (by far), while being the best player ON THAT TEAM (by far), and not be the GOAT?

He won without Auerbach, Cousy, Sharman, Havlicek, Jones, etc. He won as a player coach TWICE, he won injured, he won old, he won in the Olympics (most dominant Olympic team ever), he won two NCAA chips as the best player (by far). He won with modern rules. He beat some of the greatest to ever play the game.

Here's a post that I wish I could take credit for, but I can't...it's regarding a debate of Bill Russell vs Jordan.

It's not necessarily to discredit MJ, but rather to shine light on the fact that wherever Russell played, he DOMINATED, and to educate some, including myself in some small way, about NBA history...

Before anything else i just want to say that rings are the ultimate measure of a player's greatness but MVPs are there to seperate the true superstars from the Robert Horry and Spider Salley players who are just there for the championship ride.

A short comparison between Michael Jordan and Bill Russell:

6 NBA Titles: Pathetic, Russell has 11.

6 NBA Finals MVPs: Finals MVP were only given during Russell's last year in 1969 and was given as a consolation prize to the brave but heavily injured Jerry West. This marks as the first and only time that the Finals MVP was given to a player from the losing team. The award came with a Dodge pickup and, annoyingly for West, was colored Celtic green.

Had Finals MVP been given much earlier, Russ would have won more. In fact, Jerry West (and his coach/general manager Fred Schaus) who lost 6 Finals encounter with Russ consider him as their most dangerous opponent, thats not counting the 4 Finals trip in which Russ left Bob Petit and the Hawks dazed and confused.

6 NBA Finals Appearances: Pathetic, Russell has 12

He's 6-0 (UNDEFEATED) in the NBA Finals. He also never been in a game 7 in the NBA Finals (that shows DOMINANCE). But Russell, he has a LOSS and several game 7's in the NBA Finals (meaning Jordan was more unstoppable).

Unstoppable my ***. Again youre missing the big picture. Jordan is NO POSITION to brag since he only made 6 trips to the Finals in his 15 year career (40% chance of going to the Finals, Russ is 91%). Russell is 11 for 12 in 13 years. Russ is a champion from his rookie year to his last. Whose more dominating again?

5 NBA MVPs: Russell has 5 too and would have been more, if not his role as a player coach blur the impact of his two duties. Its hard to attribute the Celtic's success to Russell as the coach or Russell as the player.

1 NCAA Title (his shot sealed the deal): Russell has 2, with a 55 game winning streak with an average winning margin of 15 during his senior years. No game winning shots needed. Unlike Jordan who is but a Robert Horry-role player on James Worthy's 1982 NCAA champion UNC team, Russell is the star and leader of his championship team.

1984 Naismith College Player of the Year: The award does not exist during Russell's time. Not to mention its worthless. Russ is the 1955 NCAA Most Outstanding Player because he lead his team, the USF Dons to the NCAA championship.

James Worthy won a MOP when he lead UNC to the 1982 NCAA championship but Jordan never won a MOP because he couldnt even lead his team to the Final Four. Under Jordan's leadership, UNC tanked in the Final 8 and Sweet16 in '83 and '84 despite being ranked #1 and #2.

2 Olympic Gold Medals (84, 92): Russell has only one in 1956. Pros were banned from playing the Olympics until FIBA lifted it in 1989 which made it possible for the Dream Team, hence Jordan's 2nd gold medal. Had it been lifted earlier, Russell and countless other would have multiple Olympic Gold medals.

Nevertheless, the 1956 Olympic basketball team which Russell captained won the gold medal with a margin of victory of 53.5. Its an Olympic record. A winning margin higher than the 1992 Dream team or the 1960 Olympic "superstar team" of Jerry Lucas, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson etc.

Myth#1: Bill Russell only won championships because of his talented teammates

The Celtics NEVER went to the NBA Finals before Russell even with Hall Of Famers like Coach Auerbach and players like Macauley, Cousy, Sharman, and Ramsey.

Back in the '62 season, Russell took himself out for 4 games and the Celtics lost 4 straight games even with Red Auerbach, Cousy, Sharman, the Joneses, Ramsey and other HoF's.

Back in '69, Russell took himself out for 5 games because of an injury and the Celtics lost 5 straight even with HoF's Sam Jones, Havlicek, Satch Sanders, and Bailey Howell.

The instances that i mentioned are the two worst losing streaks of the Russell-era Celtics. The latter is the worst losing streak of the Celtics since Red Auerbach took over the helm.

When Russell retired after the '69 season, the Celtics went down from 48 wins to 34 and they MISSED the Playoffs even with HoF's such as Havlicek, Sanders, Jo Jo White and Howell. A huge 14 game drop (when Jordan "retired" in '94 the Bulls went "down" from 57 wins to 55. A pitiful 2 game drop. And the Bulls played Game 7 with the Knicks in the Second Round).

And the modest 48 wins that the Celtics garnered during the '69 season is the lowest number of wins that the Celts have during the Russell -era and occured only because Russell spent a lot of time on the injured list and/or recovering.

The Celtic dynasty started with Bill Russell.

How come Jordan COULD NOT lead a school with a rich winning tradition like UNC, into the Final Four during his sophomore and junior years even though he has great teammates (like Sam Perkins and Brad Daugherty) and a great coach (Dean Smith)?

Jordan won an NCAA championship during his freshman year as a Robert Horry-role player, riding on the coattails of the team's real star James Worthy. While Jordan's shot with 16 sec. left (not exactly a game winner) gave them the lead, it was Worthy's crucial steal in the dying seconds that sealed the win.

Myth 2: Russell played in a WEAK era

First off, this breaks one of the cardinal rules in recognizing greatness. You judge greatness within its era. Its like saying Lennox Lewis is GREATER than Joe Louis. Nevermind that the Brown Bomber is Heavyweight champion for 12 years and dispatched 25 challengers, Lennox Lewis faced stiffer competition in the form of modern heavyweight boxers who are heavier and better CONDITIONED than the ones fought by Joe Louis in his time and that trumps whatever accomplishment Louis has achieved.

Give Joe Louis modern training and conditioning and he would kill Lewis as well as any of today's heavyweight boxers. On the same token, give any of the top 60's or 70's NBA teams all the modern training and conditioning that most modern teams take for granted and they would still be as dominating today as they were during their era.

Could you imagine just how dominating would a smart and athletic guy with a 48+ vertical leap and a 7'4" wingspan with the speed, timing, stamina and body coordination of a track athlete like Russell would be today if he receive MODERN WEIGHT TRAINING like most modern NBA players do?

During his time, he was able to hold his own against 7'0" 290lbs Goliaths like Clyde Lovellete and Wilt Chamberlain (And Wilt is far, far more athletic than your average 7'0", 290lbs centers today. How many 7'0", 290lbs centers today could jump from the free throw line again? How many 7'0", 290lbs centers could block a Kareem skyhook at age 34?).

And also Russell thrived in the "bush league" era of the NBA where coaches and player attack fans and vice-versa quite frequently, where referees allow all sort of infractions to go unnoticed, where elbows and shoves are used to gain position, where opposing players punch you or trip whenever you do showboating moves like dunks etc.; he wont have any problem of taking on the kind of "pounding" that he would receive in today's flagrant foul enforced, superstar coddling, hand check free era.

If you think the Bad Boys Pistons are a tough and dirty bunch, then you have not been watching the NBA for a long time. He already played and survived Playoff/Finals series with a hemorrhaging eyeball, a broken ankle, strained tendons etc. at a time when there was NO team physician or trainer to mend injuries.

Second, the NBA teams in those era are loaded with talent because the NCAA and NIT talent pool is only shared by 8-10 teams. What is the 24th pick of the 1st round today would already be the 8th pick of the 3rd round in the 60's. Only the elite of the elite college players get to play in the NBA.

Unlike during Jordan's time where expansion teams diluted the talent pool. IIRC, back in '88 there were only 24 teams but by '96 there were 30. A 25% increase. It means plenty of opportunities (90 slots to be exact) for less talented players who would normally be NOT GOOD ENOUGH to play in the NBA.

Hell one of the reasons why the 1967 Philly team who has a regular season tally of 68-13 was voted as the Greatest NBA team of all time during the NBA 35th anniversary in 1980, instead of the 1972 LA Lakers who has a 69-13 and a 33 game winning streak was because of the detrimental effect of expansion teams to the talent pool.

Third, the difficulty of the Playoffs is based on the QUALITY of the teams not on the QUANTITY of teams. Even if there was an 8 team Playoff seed and 3 rounds before going to the Finals in Russell's time, it wouldnt matter. Only the best and the most consistent teams would survive. The Celtics and Chamberlain's team would still meet in the ECF and the winner would face West and Baylor's LA. Adding more teams in the Playoffs would just pad the number of victories for the Celtics.

Hey in Lennox Lewis's time there are 3 world championship belts (at least), does that mean he faced tougher competition than in Joe Louis' era where there is only one championship belt?

Finally, the average height of players during Russell's time is 6'5". The average height of centers are 6'10" which is the same as Russell's height. The 3 second rule, the shotclock and illegal defense are all enforced.