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Ok, I know everybody's talking about the past Draft these days, but I got something else on my mind...

Is the NBA Championship all that it's cracked up to be?

To avoid further discussion, YES. Yes, it is. It truly is the greatest prize in the sport, the sole goal (ideally) of any professional basketball player.

But somehow, I keep asking myself: is it really the best gauge of a player's greatness? I mean, if Player X puts up virtually the same stats as Player Y, but Player Y happens to win more titles in his career, is he truly better? Or is there something else there that we just don't see? Or, more importantly, does he deserve to be seen as the greater athlete?

And really, despite all the hoopla that is the NBA Draft and the impending Free Agency period, I keep coming back to this one topic. Maybe the high of seeing the Celtics win is still fresh in my mind, or maybe it's because I don't really know most of the players in the Draft, but this is one thing that I keep thinking about.

And it always brings me back to two players.

Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan. Big Ticket, Big Fundamental.

You see, as recently as 2006, it would have been blasphemous to say that Kevin Garnett was on the same level as Tim Duncan. Talent-wise, you might be right. But in everything else? Nuh-uh. Tim Duncan was always the better player, the smarter leader, the greater teammate. Kevin Garnett was always the "lovable loser", a transcendent superstar with street cred to match that just couldn't seem to win anything substantial.

The stats? They played to a virtual stalemate. Timmy D averages 21.6 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 51% FG, and 2.4 BPG. KG? He averages 20.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 4.4 APG, 49% FG, and 1.6 BPG. Really, they were always thisclose to each other in terms of stats.

So why all the love for TD while KG was left in the cold? Simple. The rings. The titles. The chips.

Throughout the years, Tim Duncan was seen as the champion between the two. He's boring as hell, sure, but he was a proven winner. He brought four titles to San Antonio and won the Finals MVP thrice. As charismatic as Garnett was/is, all that really matters is the ring count. And up until 2008, the scorecard read: Tim Duncan: 4 & Kevin Garnett: 0.

But somehow, that changed this past June. Kevin Garnett suddenly got his. The prize was his. And just like that, claiming that KG is as good as Duncan suddenly didn't sound that ridiculous. There were doubters, obviously, what with Paul Pierce winning the Finals MVP, but there was no more doubting that Kevin Garnett was now a "winner".

And, really, that's what's led me to make this post. That's what made me ask the all-important question...

Why? Why just now? Why not then?

Why did it take me (along with so many other people) just now to recognize the realness? Why is my heart and my mind suddenly comfortable with KG being a "champion". But more importantly, why was it hard for me then to recognize his excellence when he was playing much, much better? Better than he did this year. Or at least just as well. Why?

To put it bluntly, this really made me question the tags we place on so-called winners. Yes, of course their excellent play led them to their titles. And yes, they aren't really chopped liver. But, in my mind, it could also be because of the situation they were placed in.

Remember, when Kevin Garnett was drafted back in '95, he played for an unidentifiable Minnesota team. No real history yet, no pride, no great players on board to teach him the game... And by his second year, he was producing well.

Contrast that with the Tim Duncan Robot, who was placed on a team that had David Robinson, Avery Johnson and Sean Elliott. All proven winners, all with playoff experience.

Not to take anything away from Timmy D, though, because he's clearly elite, but man... Could his job be any easier?

I hope by now you catch my drift. But if not, it's simply this. Assume KG was in Duncan's place... Still believe he'd have lost all those first-round match-ups? Titles really are important, believe me. But maybe it doesn't really tell us the whole f*cking story.

Maybe Minnesota wasn't really KG's fault.

Maybe he's a victim of dumb management.

And maybe, throughout the years, he was truly as good as Tim Duncan.

And we only recognize that now? For shame.
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P.S. I really wanted to post this separately, but I don't know much about boxing to dedicate a whole post to it. But I am EXTREMELY elated my fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao dominated once more.

And to the people befuddled by my sudden KG love, this video probably has a lot to do with it. Enjoy.

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

11 comments

  1. Jason  

    this was a cool post. I never really thought about it that way. And for some reason, I'd still put Duncan above Garnett. I'm really into fundamentals and as little show-boating as possible, though, so that's probably why. I try to play like that when I play around with my friends.


    And what a nice, goofy video. Pac Man!

  2. robbz18  

    Thanks, man. I have no problem when you say TD is still better. He just might be, after all. But I just wanted to say that people should stop saying TD is better because he "has more rings".

    Everything else is debatable, in my opinion. Haha.

    And that goes for people who say Dwyane Wade is better than LeBron James just because he has a chip. I know not many people think that, but there still are some.

    And yes! Imagine the Boston Celtics seeking out a Filipino?!?! Life is good.

  3. Anonymous  

    i'm sorry - but when were people every questioning kg's talent? he was an mvp for the love of god! he scored the most points in 2004, and also had the most rebounds! he lead a team of nobodies to the playoffs eight straight seasons, and the next year, still had a winning record, but because his team was in a tough conference, so they didn't make the playoffs.

    he lead nobodies to 50 wins! he was the first person to put up 20/10 and 5 assists since Bird? did tim every do that? his career high of assists i think was 6! 6 assists as a big man?!!! always played big minutes. rarely got hurt.

    and was always a great teammate who never dissed or embarrassed his teammates infront of the media.

    he's just never played with hall of fame talent until this season. tim duncan has played with hall of fame talent for 11 straight years.


    timmy is a hall of famer. but kg is on his level. even if he has 3 less rings.

  4. Anonymous  

    btw, as a celtic fan, and as a huge Paul Pierce fan - lets be real - paul pierce didn't' show up for the playoffs until maybe game 5 in the second round. kg had a much much better playoff performance overall - i'm speaking on all 4 rounds. he actually showed up to play while guys like ray or paul were too busy to shoot properly. he looked tired offensively against the lakers, but he rebounded and defended like a monster - making up for a drag on the offense.

    so pierce may have gotten the mvp - kg was the overall mvp of the playoffs and the regular season. sorry paul!

  5. robbz18  

    @ Anonymous: I really thought when you started off your comment that you were against what I said, but as I read it I found out we actually agree on this thing.

    People really weren't questioning KG's talent per se, but they had some reservations over how truly great he was. And if you've never heard of these during KG's time with the Wolves, then consider yourself lucky. You have very smart friends.

    But really, remember KG talking about the bully analogy? That's exactly what that is. People have doubted him for so long thinking it was his fault 'Sota lost when actually, if given great teammates, he can win.

  6. -Gerard Himself-  

    I understand what you're trying to say Robbi. And yes, if one player was the victim of dumb management, it was KG. Remember the "Joe Smith deal"? Man they lost their first round draft picks because of that like 4 years in a row. Dumbasses.

    Anyway, again, I completely understand what you're saying. Because Charles Barkley for instance is one of the greatest forwards ever, but one without a ring. But in no way he's a lesser player than TD or KG.

    I'd like to make one exception: Tracy McGrady. Great stats, but can't stay healthy, and for some reason, can't get over the hump to achieve greatness, and with greatness I actually meant the second round of the playoffs. What do you think of him Rob?

  7. robbz18  

    Gerard, ditto on Charles. He's one player I originally wanted to point out, but didn't because it was pretty much widely accepted that he was loads better than most of the PFs of his time that won chips (McHale, Worthy).

    Nice. T-Mac is a special case, though. I think he is an exception to what I said. I agree that he should have at least gotten out of the first round by now! I kinda like his "my fault" schtick, but it's getting tiring now. At some point, people will question whether that's just talk.

    But one thing sticks out to me as far as T-Mac is concerned. In an interview maybe a year or two ago, he discussed his retirement!

    Now this may not have been much, but that kinda struck me the wrong way. Here was a guy who hasn't really done anything yet talking about how he wanted to retire by 32. To me, that doesn't exactly scream "WIN". It reeks of contentment, one that a player of his ability should probably be not considering that early.

    That kinda reminds me of Larry Hughes, who famously said that he values enjoying the game more than victory. I dont think that's wrong really, but maybe T-Mac is like that, too.

  8. Anonymous  

    thanks for seeing my point about kg. i wasn't trying to be mean.

    i guess kg is criticized a lot. ppl have been calling him fake lately for how excited he gets - but i tell ya, he's inspirational. to love something so much - reminds me of me and my love for art and painting. he can't fake that. he's not that good of an actor.

    anyway - tmac flat out doesn't have the desire of someone like kg, kobe, duncan.

    plus add in his horrible back and horrible luck with injuries - its a recipe for disaster. tmac is the kind of guy that gets so low sometimes, he needs an excited motivator on his team....oh i don't know - a kg type of player. too bad it won't happen.

    but at least he has more heart than vince carter - i used to live in toronto - and boy is vince so overrated. no heart. paul pierce should have been drafted before that fool!

    peace!

  9. robbz18  

    @Anonymous: Lol. No, man, I never thought it was mean. In fact, I really enjoyed the input.

    And yes, KG is no fake. Really. He is overly intense, but it is genuine.

    Yep, T-Mac either doesnt have "it" or just doesnt embrace "it". He could be if he wanted to, y'know.

    Yeah, maybe he needs an extra motivator, but his team ain't exactly as terrible as LeBron's, and look where LBJ is right now.

    It's just a shame, because he could be toe-to-toe with Kobe and Bron for the Best Player tag...

    Also, I feel for Houston fans. It sure doesn't feel nice depending on a dude like Tracy to bring you a chip. I'd rather have Brandon Roy than him.

  10. -Gerard Himself-  

    ditto. I love Roy. Probably playing the SG permanantly next season, then again, he can play the 1, 2 and 3 spot, it doesn't matter. Roy is great. Did I already mention that Roy is great? Because he is, you know, great. Yup. Great.

  11. -Gerard Himself-  

    (great)

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