MJ: Which stat is harder, 30-point games or triple-doubles? 6 titles

  • Nick Celario

First of all, congratulations to Kapaa High School’s varsity boys soccer team on winning the Division II state championship.

State titles, in any sport, don’t come around too often.

Way to go. I’m sure you’ve made your families, friends, communities and the island proud.

Speaking of championships, let’s segue to someone who definitely knows something about that — Michael Jordan. You know who I’m talking about, right?

Won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls.

Widely regarded as the greatest basketball player ever.

The guy whose brand makes everyone’s favorite basketball shoes — which by the way, my favorite Jordans are the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam.” But I’d be very cautious of wearing them because I’d be devastated if I got red dirt on them. I would just admire them from the safe confines of my closet.

But, yes, that guy. If there is anybody walking this Earth who would know what it took to win titles — meaning multiple titles — Jordan is one of the few.

On the eve of the Charlotte Hornets hosting NBA All-Star Weekend, the team which Jordan is the principle owner and chairman, MJ said some interesting comments about a couple of today’s stars.

Earlier this week during a news conference promoting the All-Star Game in Charlotte, Jordan was asked about James Harden’s streak of 30-point games, which at the time was at 30 games, and Russell Westbrook streak of triple-double games, which then was at 10 games.

He was asked which he thought is harder to achieve.

Jordan praised their feats, which I think any player past or present could only do. But in typical Jordan fashion, he took just a little jab at them just to remind everyone who’s the greatest.

After lauding their accomplishments, Jordan said with a grin on his face, “Which is harder from the player’s standpoint? Six championships by all means.”

His response drew some laughs from media members.

While it could just be MJ having fun with the media, under the surface it could also be an honest comment on today’s NBA.

My question to sports fans is: Which has more significance? Individual statistical greatness or the number of championships won?

Much of today’s coverage of the NBA surrounds individual accomplishments, such as when the reporter asked Jordan of Harden’s and Westbrooks’ statistical streaks.

And perhaps it may be in part because it’s widely a forgone conclusion that the Golden State Warriors will again win the NBA Championship by the end of the season.

While everybody appreciates greatness, if that greatness comes without any real resistance, its story becomes stale. It’s become that way for the Golden State Warriors and some of the other dynasties of today such as the New England Patriots or University of Alabama football.

Yes, individual stats matter. It’s why we have MVP awards and such.

When players have great seasons, they should get some recognition.

If a player is blessed enough to have both the championships and statistical greatness, then it’s those who become the true all-time greats.

But to answer which matters more, individual stats or number of championships, this shouldn’t even be a debate. Championships matter more.

Jordan, in addition to winning six NBA championships, won five MVP awards.

If Jordan had those five MVPs or even more but maybe just won one or two NBA championships, would he still be regarded as the greatest basketball player ever?

I would guess probably not, or it would be debatable at the very least.

I believe those six championships largely is why the Jordan brand is so marketable and has staying power even years after he’s retired playing professionally, and it probably will stay relevant for a very, very long time.

Yes, Harden and Westbrook are having great individual seasons. It’s no surprise they’re all-stars, and wouldn’t be a surprise if both are in the running for MVP.

But ultimately, are those stats really going to matter if the Houston Rockets or the Oklahoma City Thunder get eliminated in the first or second round of the NBA Playoffs?

Individual greatness it great, but I think most if not all would agree that championships truly define the great ones.

If you won’t take it from me, take it from MJ.

•••

Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.

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