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How Much Does A Championship Ring Matter To A Player’s Legacy?

Steph Curry by Cyrus Saatsaz is licensed under CC BY 4.0

How Much Does A Championship Ring Matter To A Player’s Legacy?


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Offseason Madness

If you’ve been paying attention to all the madness that is the NBA off-season, you’ll know that some crazy sh*t has been going down. LeBron James is now a Laker. So are JaVale McGee (lol), Rajon Rondo (lol x 2), and Lance Stephenson (lol x 3). LeBron James with a bunch of guys who can’t shoot. Great.

Paul George is still on the Thunder. But perhaps the most puzzling/troubling/upsetting/weird thing that’s happened is that DeMarcus Cousins is now a f*cking Warrior. He signed a 1-year $5.3 million deal. Spencer Hawes made more than that last year. Okay, for more reference, Cousins made nearly $17 million last year.

Boogie Boogie Boogie

This particular move got me thinking a lot about championships and rings and just how important they are to a player’s legacy. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the best centers in the league. Now, he did suffer a torn Achilles last year that cut his season short. This injury is known to be hellish to recover from and it will no doubt affect Boogie’s performance. But Cousins at oh, 60%, is still going to be the best center the Warriors have had in the past five years. Cousins stated that he didn’t receive any offers in free agency. This is certainly due to his injury, but still extremely surprising.

While he didn’t receive any offers, he could have reached out to teams more and he deeeeefinitely could have gotten more money. Now, Cousins will get a ring (oh, come on, we all know it) while he proves to the league that he is still an elite player post-injury (FYI, he is). It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I hate this. I was upset when Kevin Durant moved to Golden State (yes, I’ve called him both a cupcake and a snake, among other things, many a time). I’m just as upset, if not more, with this move.

Big Rings

When I express my opinion regarding the KD move and how it impacted the NBA negatively (in my opinion), I get a lot of opposite opinions. Some people say it’s the same as LeBron going to Miami with Wade and Bosh. I get riled up because Miami wasn’t an already-existing “super team” with the best record of literally all time. I was upset that KD moved because he was on a team that nearly beat the Warriors in the playoffs. He literally couldn’t beat them so he joined them.

Rihanna said it best, “Winning a championship after joining a 73-win team is like losing your virginity to a hooker.” Dammit, I love Rihanna.

Cousins joining the Warriors now seems almost comical. The team’s starting five are all all-stars in their prime. Cousins was the one to make the call to the Warriors, so it’s what he wanted. So I find myself asking, is a championship really that important?

Championship-less but still a champ

There are so many incredible players in NBA history that never won a championship. The big one who comes to my mind is John Stockton. Stockton is one of the greatest to ever play the game, and depending on who you talk to, the best (or second best) passer in NBA history.

Does the fact that he doesn’t have a championship ring take away from his undeniable greatness? In my opinion, hell no. Would he have been less-respected if, somehow, he joined Michael Jordan and the Bulls (the team that defeated him in the NBA finals) and won a ring there? Honestly, yes, I think so.

I keep going back and forth in my head because, winning a championship is, ultimately, the goal, right? I mean, what would the point of going through the entire regular season be? But like, there’s gotta be some balance, right? Striving and working for a championship is different from waltzing into a championship with arguably the best team of all time. It just is.

There are other incredible and legendary players who never won championship rings. Do they feel less-than because of that? Do they overlook their greatness and accomplishments because they never got that far?

I certainly hope not. And if you think a championship determines greatness, just think about this: Quinn Cook has a ring and John Stockton/Charles Barkley/Patrick Ewing/Steve Nash/etc.etc.etc. do not.

Edited to add: Apparently, Cousins was made an offer by New Orleans and he lied because, well, he didn’t want to look like a piece of sh*t.

Jamie is an actress, bar manager (and frequenter), beauty blogger, INFP, and of course, NBA fanatic living in Los Angeles. She spends most of her free time curating her Spotify playlists, eating Korean BBQ with her boyfriend, and deciding what color lipstick to wear.

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