Sunday, May 17, 2015
Russell is the Greatest of All-Time, PER is garbage
Danville, Kentucky- How do you measure, measure a career? In layups, in dunks, in made up stats ? Or the correct way: in wins, in triumphs and in championships? The correct way leads to one conclusion: Bill Russell is the greatest basketball player of all-time.
Bill Russell's case is like the case for a chili's old timer: dependable and the best. Bill Russell has 11 championships. Michael Jordan has six. Kareem has six. I figure the nerds would be able to calculate that 11 is greater than six, but then again, the nerds would try and isolate the effects of quality teammates v. opponents expected value over replacement teammate by era. It's time to cut the crap. The goal is to win. Nobody won more than Russell.
The haters would counter, PER is the best metric. For these morons of May and all other months, which sadly does not provide the alliteration of morons of May, they claim the box score can be calculated in a way to provide the correct value. Yet, the most important statistic in the box score is winning. Bill Russell's career box score lists 11 championships. Jordan's lists only six.
PER also fails because it says other players are bad. PER claims Allen Iverson took too many shots. PER claims Carlos Boozer was 17 spots better than Bill Russell. PER would probably claim the paternity test is correct and this isn't actually my son. Yet, there are some things numbers can't measure. Numbers can't tell you how Iverson carried Eric Snow and a team of pieces to an NBA finals. The numbers can't tell you that Carlos Boozer was too scared to re-up in Cleveland in 2004 or was so worthless the Bulls decided to use devil-magic and amnesty him. However, the numbers can tell us one thing: 11. Russell has 11 titles.
Finally, it's helpful to break down the Jordan mythology. Michael Jordan is a great player. He does have six titles. Yet, Jordan didn't have the veteran presence of mind to keep playing so he could win 11 titles in 13 seasons. Instead, Jordan quit basketball and watched the Rockets become the Republicans best stand after Newt Gingrich broke my heart and those of so many of his wives. In total, Jordan won 6 titles. Not seven, eight, nine, ten, or Bill Russell's 11.
Life is filled with a few great joys. That no-hitter in high school that would have been seven innings if not for the rain delay, but the record books still rightfully record for it's brilliance, or the sweet smell of coming back to Danville, Kentucky. Yet, in all my years, the constant in things truly great is their greatness. In Bill Russell, we had more than greatness, we had a champion. An 11 time champion. We had, quite simply, the greatest of all-time.