This is one of my favorite Jay-Z lines of all time. It’s so damn hard and so true. Well kind of true. Okay, not really true at all. But I still love this line. This blog is not about rap though, it’s about basketball and numbers. I love basketball-reference.com. It gives me all the knowledge I want about basketball on one website. But I did notice something when I was staring at numbers to evaluate basketball player’s talent from the past. It doesn’t tell the whole story. Some have argued, some have agreed, while others want evidence. But it is hard to prove because a lot of times an NBA players talent is based on opinion, not hard facts. The only “hard fact’s” out there are stats. When they measure Lebron to the Magic’s, Birds, and Jordan’s he will fall short. The future generations will argue until they’re blue in the face using Lebron’s statistics. The arguments will become even stronger when Lebron wins that first ring. But he will still have fallen short. Why? Because of those fourth quarters he choked away. His talent is supreme as is his will to win, but when that fat lady gets geared up to sing he begins to quiet down. And that’s fine, he’s still a Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the greatest of all time. But he is not THE greatest. Future and present fans will still argue (like Drake saying the Miami Heat are the greatest team of all time). I will have no recourse except, “you had to have watched the others play.” They will argue more. So I come here today not to attack Lebron’s future legacy, but to make a point about the difference between a team winner and a statistical winner.
During Stephon Marbury’s prime he averaged 20.7 ppg, 8.1 apg, 3.4 rpg, and 1.3spg. He was a cancer that couldn’t win and is somewhat crazy (“If you get your logo tattooed on your head then you are probably crazy”-Jalen Rose). Let’s compare those very same statistics with Steve Nash who averaged 15.9 ppg, 9.6 apg, 3.2 rpg, and 0.8 spg. Those stats are very similar and Marbury even had better defense, but those two players aren’t even comparable. Two time MVP’s cannot be compared to players playing in China. Oh and Steve Nash’s prime is still going.
During Dirk Nowitzki’s prime he averaged 23.6 ppg, 8.5 rrg, 2.7 apg, and 1.0 bpg. He is an MVP and an NBA champion. His team is also, and always has been, built around his talent. Few players have that and become champions (Kobe, Shaq, Jordan and Duncan to name a few). Let’s compare to Antawn Jamison who averaged 20.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, and 1.1spg. Stats are similar, as are positions. But do I even have to ask the question of who would you rather have? Thought so.
Men lie, women lie, and numbers fail to tell the whole story.
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