Friday, September 28, 2012

The Amorphous NBA

ESPN's #NBArank is why I love the NBA. While ranking 500 players objectively is pretty ludicrousness within itself, it's a symbol of the fantastic, aqueous nature of the league.

Some players claw their way to the top. For example, in three years Kevin Love went from sixth man, to Most Improved Player, to All-NBA Second Team, and in the MVP conversation.

Some players fall precipitously and tragically, like Tracy McGrady (former scoring champ, 33 and unemployed).

While there is a consistent pantheon of great players (the guys in shoe commercials), new players can come in at any time and shake up the league (Ricky Rubio, Kyrie Irving). New players can affect this league more than any other professional sports organization. Player's success, failure, and constant movement is part of what makes this league so exciting.

We may be living in the greatest times.

Let's compare this to the other two major pro sports leagues in the US. (Sorry hockey, most people don't even care that you're locked out right now.)

Football has its place at the pantheon. It's the biggest league with the most money. But do you know who the greatest player in the league is right now? Is it Aaron Rodgers? Arian Foster? Calvin Johnson? Mario Williams? Even though the NFL has tried to objectively rank these players, you just can't do it. Is a running back only great because he had a great O-line? There are just too many questions.

And who is the greatest QB of all time? Marino? Favre? Montana? Unitas?

Baseball is the refuge of purists. And while I am a romantic at heart, it gets stale after a while. Baseball is seeped in slowness and tradition. Opening day, pennant races, the triple crown...yadda,yadda,yadda. We get it.

It's also difficult to compare even two outfielders. Dimaggio vs. Williams, for example. Williams was the better hitter, but Dimaggio was the better field. The fight goes on.

Coming back to basketball. Every season people make comparisons to Michael Jordan. And I love it. While that may be hard to prove as well, it's a discussion that will continue to be had in bars and online.

No one is arguing if Tom Brady is better than Joe Montana. It just doesn't happen.

Basketball changes. That's why I love it.

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