Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Kobe Bryant will not win a sixth NBA championship


Kobe Bryant’s 2-year/$48.5 million extension ensured that he will retire as a life-long member of the Los Angeles Lakers. En route to an incredible five NBA championships, 15 All-Star appearances, two scoring titles, an MVP award, and countless other accolades, Kobe will go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history. That is indisputable.

But this contract seals the fact that he will also go down as one of the league’s most selfish players.

The Lakers just underwent a tumultuously traumatic experience in 2012-13 where injuries and the Dwight Howard saga led to vast disappointment. Little blame for last year should fall on the sturdy shoulders of Bryant, who at age 34 managed to put up 27.3 points per game along with a career-tying high of 6.0 assists per game. Whatever the Lakers demanded of him, as pure Kobe fashion calls for, he tried to answer the bell. It is this very stubborn-to-a-fault drive that has prevented him from realizing that the bell tolls for him and he must relinquish full power of the Lakers.

What he did with taking this much money was nothing short of crippling the Lakers for the next two-years…and probably more.

As has already been well-discussed in the NBA blogosphere, Kobe’s tremendous contract limits the Lakers ability to attract more than a single big name and might even hamper that potential suitor’s desire to sign. The message from the Lakers front office that made Bryant again the highest paid player is clear: this is Kobe Bryant’s team.

Why would LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, or any other superstar want to come into a situation like that? Setting aside the fact that Kobe Bryant has proven throughout his career to more than frequently alienate teammates (all the way from the worst in Smush Parker and Kwame Brown to the best in Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal), the financials just don’t add up. You simply can’t put together a reasonable squad around Kobe and another max contract player and expect to fill out your roster with anything better than D-league players.

Lakers Nation worships the ground that Kobe walks on. Delivering five NBA championships is no joke and providing inspiration for a generation is something that’s priceless.

But look at Kobe Bryant throughout his career—the feud with Shaq, the requests for trades, the battles with Phil Jackson and Andrew Bynum, hefty criticism of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard—and you’ll realize that it would be criminally incomplete to say that Kobe cares about 1) his team and 2) about winning.


He wants to be a winner only if he is the main man. And as such he is not all about the team. He plays with a me-first attitude in a team sport…who just happens to be gifted enough to be able to cover up that major flaw.

Finally, he will see that it costs him. In the twilight of his career he still can look at guys across generations in the NBA today doing things that he could have done. LeBron James, the best player in the game, took a pay-cut to win a championship. Kevin Durant likewise took a pay-cut to stay in OKC (although results have been murky). Tim Duncan, the last piece of greatness in Kobe’s era, took not only a pay-cut but a diminished role in the Spurs. Even the original Big Three in Boston finagled around the salary cap to put together a championship run.

Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, is sitting on the sideline collecting north of $30 million or about 133 percent of LeBron’s salary in 2014. And nobody knows what his return will be like. So, the conclusion here is very simple:

Kobe Bryant does not care about winning as much as LeBron, Durant, and Duncan.

If he did, there would have been no feud with Shaq. There would have been no ousting of Phil Jackson. There would have been no demands to be traded when the wins faded in the mid-00s (largely thanks to his desire to dismantle the great pieces around him). And there certainly would not have been a $49 million contract over two years that all but voids any relevancy of the Lakers in both a legendary draft class and a couple huge free agency periods.

Kobe wants to win with his rules and he has gotten away with it many times before because of his immense talent and work ethic. What's sad is the fact that his ego got in the way of even more greatness.

Instead, that ego puts the Lakers in a hole. The future is bleak with Kobe taking home excessive dollars. Lakers fans now may say that he has earned it, but when it the misery unfolds, the tune will change as quickly as it once did. When free agents that could have signed start flying by, the whispers will begin. Shouldn’t he retire? Are his legs really going to hold up? Can he carry the Lakers to a championship?

About a year ago, I made a bet with a friend that Kobe Bryant will never win another NBA championship. Thanks to Kobe himself, I am even more confident that that was bet well placed because Kobe Bryant will never win another NBA championship. And his legacy just might be tainted in the process.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why LeBron James should already have 6 NBA MVPs


LeBron James is at the top of the basketball world with back-to-back NBA MVPs and Finals MVPs under his belt. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s off to a white-hot start already only ten games into the 2013-14 NBA season (62 percent shooting from the field and 52 percent from three). Even with an already astounding resume, the reality is that LeBron should have not four, but six MVPs, at age 28.

The 2006 NBA MVP race has gone down infamously in history as the MVP that Steve Nash should not have won. Popular opinion has given the nod to Kobe Bryant in that race. Then again in 2011, LeBron was robbed at the hands of a young superstar point guard, Derrick Rose. MVP voting in the history of the NBA is certainly filled with suspicious results, but these are two glaring mistakes.

To the voters’ credit, they don’t have an easy task. NBA voting must take into account more than who is the best player at a position in the league (most NFL MVPs are quarterbacks unless a running back has a historic season) or who is the best offensive player in the league (defense does factor into an NBA players success while in the NFL a player is only on one side of the ball and for baseball, defensive skill is given little consideration for the most part).

But the 2006 race really gets me because not only did the voters get it wrong, but most NBA fans (who believe Kobe Bryant should have won the award) got it wrong, as well.
                                         
Kobe Bryant did join an exclusive club in 2006 by averaging an incredible 35.4 points per game, becoming only the fifth player in NBA history to do so (Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Rick Barry, and Elgin Baylor). He was certainly more deserving that Nash. But LeBron James managed a nearly equally impressive 31.4 points per game while racking up two assists per game more than Bryant. So if you were to look at scoring output for the team (points + assists x 2), Bryant and LeBron had equal scoring outputs—and both greater than Steve Nash.

Statistic (2006)
LeBron James
Steve Nash
Kobe Bryant
PER
28.1
23.3
28.0
Win shares per 48
.232
.212
.224
Points
31.4
18.8
35.4
Rebounds
7.0
4.2
5.3
Assists
6.6
10.5
4.5
Steals
1.6
0.8
1.8
FG percentage
.480
.512
.450
FT percentage
.738
.921
.850
Team record
50 – 32
54 – 28
45 – 37

The individual statistics for 2006 give the clear advantage to LeBron, with the highest numbers posted in two of the more telling metrics for an individual player: PER and WS/48. PER measures efficiency and WS/48 measures a player’s contribution to the team and a combination of the two really do allude to a team’s “most valuable player.”

Both Bryant and James had terrible supporting casts in 2006, so that point is moot. This was the first playoff appearance of LeBron’s career and he sustained a more elite level of play throughout the season that peaked with a nine-game stretch in which he averaged 39 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds per game. That hadn’t been done since Oscar Robertson in 1965. Without a doubt, this stretch is more impressive for an MVP-caliber season than Kobe Bryant’s 81-point show vs. Toronto. (And of course, James was the better defender—a claim that defensive win shares and the individual defensive rating metrics support.)


The voters were scared to give the MVP award to a 21-year-old kid who had broken onto the NBA scene and nearly immediately taken over the game. At that time, the youngest MVP winner was 23-year-old Wes Unseld from way back in 1969 (we’ll get to who the youngest MVP is currently soon enough). And when competitors like Bryant and Nash had both posted impressive numbers they made the excuse to vote against the player who had truly earned the right to the award. If you give a barely legal adult the MVP already, will the motivation for the rest of his career dwindle? That very well could have played into the logic of the voters because clearly the Akron native should have taken home the 2006 MVP honors.

In 2011, somehow Derrick Rose ran away with the MVP. While this came as little surprise to most people, most everything about that season shows that not only was LeBron James more deserving…but so was Dwight Howard!

The leftover hatred of LeBron’s ESPN “special” where he articulated his desire to take his talents to South Beach had to have something to do with it because, again, the numbers clearly show LeBron was more deserving than Derrick Rose (and Dwight Howard).

Statistic (2011)
LeBron James
Derrick Rose
Dwight Howard
PER
27.3
23.5
26.1
Win shares per 48
.244
.208
.235
Points
26.7
25.0
22.9
Rebounds
7.5
4.1
14.1
Assists
7.0
7.7
1.4
Steals
1.6
1.0
1.4
FG percentage
.510
.445
.593
FT percentage
.759
.858
.596
Team record
58 – 24
62 – 20
52 – 30

The only individual statistics above that Derrick Rose beat LeBron in were assists, by a marginal amount, and free throw percentage. It wasn’t like a battle of deciding which position meant more to their team. At least Nash (in 2006) had the 50-40-90 numbers and 10+ assists going for him. In 2011, Rose was a scorer…who was not a better scorer than LeBron.

The Big Three gained infamy that year for losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, but the fact that it was a “Big Three” doesn’t lessen LeBron’s impact on the team. One could make a very strong argument that the Bulls without Derrick Rose would have done just fine. The Heat without LeBron would not have been pretty. Just look at the Bulls performance in 2013 without their star point guard…a laudable semifinal appearance. Statistically, LeBron and D-Rose’s relative contribution to their respective teams in 2011 show LeBron was the more valuable player (higher efficiency, PER, and overall contribution to the team, WS/48, among other parameters).

Ironically, in 2011 the voters had no problem breaking Cousy’s record for youngest MVP award. At 22 years old, the Chicago native became the youngest MVP in NBA history. Maybe LeBron’s brilliance at such a young age helped pave the way for voters to feel more comfortable giving the award to someone so young?

I won’t claim to get into the voters heads, but I will say this: LeBron James should be a six-time MVP right now. And that would put him in the debate for top-five greatest players of all time…at age 28.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Defense does not always win NBA championships


The old adage goes that “defense wins championships.” You don’t hear it just on the professional level, but anybody who has played an offense vs. defense team sport at any level has heard it. Frequently, however, it’s potent offenses that succeed in the NBA. Whether it’s LeBron James and the Big Three in Miami, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, or even Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks, high-powered offenses get media coverage and sell tickets.

So what is really more important to have a successful franchise: offense or defense? Clearly, a combination of both is essential but in this analysis, I’m looking to delve into the idea of seeing which side of the ball is more effective to focus on. To do that, I’m going to focus on two main barometers of success in the NBA: playoff teams and championship teams.

First, here’s a look at the team offense and team defense ratings of every NBA champions from 1991 to 2013.

Team offense and defense ratings of NBA champions relative to the rest of the league. 1991-2013
The best way to read this graph is to follow the graph from a year to year. For example, the 1991 Chicago Bulls had the second-best offense rating in the league and the ninth best defense rating—thus offense was more important that year. Admittedly, there is some wild variation in whether an NBA champion is more of an offensive or defensive threat. The one consistency is that 20 of the 23 champions (exceptions: 2011 Mavs, 2006 Heat, and 1995 Rockets) were top-five offense and/or defenses. In total, 11 of those 23 champions had top-five offenses and 14 of the champions had top-five defenses, so in that light, defenses are marginally more important.

All 16 playoff teams are more difficult to represent graphically in a longitudinal manner, but here’s one way that helps show the trend. In this graph, I’ve taken the difference between the amount of top-16 offenses and top-16 defenses that actually made the playoffs. For example, in 2013, 10 of the top-16 offenses in the league made the playoffs and 13 of the top defenses made the playoffs (represented in this graph by a net value of +3 for three more top-16 defenses than offenses).

Difference between top-16 ranked defenses and top-16 ranked offenses making the 16 NBA playoff spots. 1991-2013

In this light, defense is clearly more important to making the playoffs. In 15 of the 23 seasons represented here, there was at least one more top defense in the playoffs than offense. Only three times (1991, 1992, and 1998) were there more offenses than defenses.

To combine what these two graphs say: defense may get you to the playoffs, but once you’re there, there’s little that can be said about whether a great offense or defense can predict a team to win it all.

This year could provide a very good case study with Miami Heat ranking currently as the most efficient offense (via ESPN’s John Hollinger) and the Indiana Pacers the best defense. A LeBron vs. PG24 matchup in the 2014 NBA playoffs is definitely in the forecast.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Flopping in the NBA


James Harden recently received the first fine for flopping (say that five times fast) of the 2013-14 NBA season. Chris Paul and Anderson Varejao also received “warnings” for flopping. And you know what?

It’s ridiculous.

Flopping in the NBA has become a hot topic over the past few years because it has become a more prevalent practice. Maybe the NBA stars are trying out for Hollywood while they’re still on the court but it has certainly become commonplace for NBA players to act like they’ve been bulldozed after a 6’1” guard touches their jersey on a crossover. And it’s not just the average player that does it but LeFlop LeBron James has had his fair share of pretty blatant flops (see video parody below).

This acting should be something covered by the NBA’s referees during training and something that they can appropriately recognize during the games. The league office doesn't need to get involved. If a 220-pound man flops like a fish after getting nudged by a 180-pound point guard it doesn’t take a physics major to realize that there was some acting going on.


James Harden was fined $5000 for flopping…a penny in the bucket of a multi-millionaire. What’s the real incentive against hitting the deck prematurely? The torrential downpour of hate from the public after media coverage. Being “soft” is as heinous as it gets in the realm of a professional athlete’s image—and ESPN personalities talking about the flopping is as the most significant way to impact these players. Then it hits Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…and there goes a player’s reputation. But trying to hit their bank account with a $5000 fine is a joke for NBA players.

More importantly, if a player gains the reputation of being a flopper among the NBA referees, the solution on their part is simple: watch out for these guys and don’t give them any close calls or suspiciously dramatic incidents. If they complain, all you have to say to them: “we’re not fish out of water here, this is the NBA. Once you stop flopping around, you’ll get the benefit of the doubt. Until then, we won’t be making calls based on exaggerated reactions.” If there’s any debate, a no-call option is always there.

If a player is able to duke the refs in the game, then it’s on the refs. The league office should not be able to review every minute action of players. They’re not reversing bad judgement calls for other plays, and flops should be no difference.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How NBA team salaries correlate to winning


In Mikhail Prokhorov’s tenure thus far as majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets he has nearly single-handedly help change the power structure in the Eastern conference. He has helped dismantle a juggernaut in the East looking to rebuild (the Boston Celtics), but he also took a piece from Atlanta (Joe Johnson) as well as one of the best point guards in the West (Deron Williams). Now the Nets are favorites to compete deep into the playoffs. He has absolutely no regard for the NBA salary not-so-cap, but since paying the luxury tax isn't a problem, why not go for it? If you’re a billionaire looking to do something big after losing an election for the Russian presidency, running an NBA team is surely the most logical follow-up…right? After all, his plan with the Nets was inspired by former Soviet Premier, Vladimir Lenin.

But does money really buy success in the NBA?


The 2013 champs had the benefit of underpaying three superstars (LeBron, Wade, and Bosh) while the Lakers paid a much more accurate market value for their superstar, Kobe Bryant ($30 million), who took full advantage of his Bird rights.

Based on the above graphic, 13 teams performed better than their team salary would predict, 13 teams under-performed, and four teams hit basically exactly what you would predict. (OKC and Miami performed most above what you would expect and the Bobcats, Magic, and 76ers most below.) This suggests that is roughly a 50/50 shot at whether or not you perform above or below what you would expect based on how strategically your owner shells out cash. Translation: it's not all about how much you can spend.

NBA playoff series wins vs. team salary. 2012-13 NBA season

In terms of teams that won at least one playoff series in 2012-13, here’s a look at how each team’s salary compares to the median salary ($65 million). Number of playoff series wins increases from left to right (ie Bulls and Warriors won one and Miami won four series).

At first glance, two things stick out: 1) Indiana spends significantly less than average and 2) there is not much of a correlation between salaries and series won…until you look at the Miami Heat.

The median salary for a player in the NBA during 2012-13 was about $5.5 million and if you divide each of the salaries of the playoff series-winning teams by 12 (players on a team), all of the teams except the Pacers (-$1.2 million) and Heat (+$1.5 million) spend within $1 million of the median salary per player. However, a more telling explanation would be that an extra $10 or $20 million could be the difference between being able to add a superstar to your roster...or not. Not only that, but the luxury taxes that teams like the Brooklyn Nets can willingly incur make that $10 or $20 million more than that figure in terms of a cap hit. (This is where I leave my issues with the NBA salary not-so-cap for another day…)

Extrapolating from that data, I created a prediction for the 2013-14 record of all 30 teams based strictly on their team salaries:

Predicted wins for all 30 teams based on team salary for the 2013-14 NBA saeson
The Kobe Bryant contract clearly impacts these results but there are some meaningful takeaways from this prediction. For one, the Western conference is much more equitable in terms of salaries whereas there is a much larger disparity between the top and bottom of the East. The spread in win predictions between the one and four seeds in the East (9) is the same as the one seed and the absolute bottom of the West.

Another point of interest is that the predictions in terms of who makes the playoffs is quite accurate when compared to 2014 NBA playoff predictions like my own. If you put Detroit or Cleveland in Boston’s playoff spot, you have eight teams that one could logically predict to make the playoffs. Same can be said for the West, if you put the Spurs in the Lakers spot.

So while the finer points of how well a general manager crafts a team fine-tune this inexact science, the dollar amount he can work with will usually make the difference between a playoff team and a team that heads home early in the summer.

12013-14 NBA team salaries are taken from Basketball-Reference.com and 2012-13 team salaries are from Ballislife.com.
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If you are interested in more NBA statistical analysis, check out TSR, a statistic that I created a bit ago, which quantifies the difference between a scoring point guard and a pass-first point guard.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Social media's influence on Michael Jordan and discussion of the greatest of all time


[Editor’s note: Matt Donnelly of NBAvoices.com is a regular reader and commenter here on Bases and Baskets and wrote this piece to share his thoughts on how the Michael Jordan brand and social media in general affected the discussion of the greatest of all time. This isn’t just a discussion of the GOAT in the NBA but across sports. Read it for yourself and share your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook page. (Yes, I’m plugging in social media into a conversation on the very topic.) Thanks to Matt for being a regular reader and contributing his opinion here! - EA]

In a never ending revolving stage of life changes everything we do from our thoughts to our actions. This holds true in every way shape and form when it comes to sports. The way TV, Internet, and smart phones have revolutionized the way we look at sports today. 

Professional players nowadays can’t just live up to the expectations professionally anymore because of the growing age of technology and a combination of being famous. Player’s actions outside of the sport are examined like never before. 

Think about how much publicity your average player in sports today accumulates over the span of their career compared decades ago just because of social media alone. 

Let’s just think for a second how social media would play in the world of the NBA back in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and how it would have had a chain reaction to the way people think about players today. Even the early to mid 2000s there wasn’t a thing as blogging every second about this player or that player via Facebook. 

I could think of quite of a few things that would have happened for instance 

1. The Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell debate
Even today’s NBA discussion the Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell debates holds strong. It’s been roughly 60 years and the debate is still brought up. Think about the type of scrutiny LeBron faced early in his career for not winning the big one which was multiplied exponentially with the growing speed of media. Then apply that same hatred towards the great Wilt Chamberlain. Sure he was great stat-padder, historically great offensively and defensively but so is LeBron. The difference is that it took him 9 years of media abuse to finally see some love. There’s no doubt in my mind he would have seen the same level of disrespect until he won the big one. Bill Russell would have ruled the NBA media world with and may be more respected now days for as the GOAT. 

Both are respected nowadays because of what they accomplished, but many people believe they played in a weak era. They would be much more respected for what they were able to accomplish regardless of era. The same way Michael Jordan will be respected 60 years from now.

2. Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson
This debate wouldn’t have been as one-sided as I believe the Wilt vs Bill Russell debate would have been. Matter of fact in terms of legacy and skill I almost seem to think it would be #TeamBird vs #TeamMagic with way media followers latch on to certain players now days. The rivalry was so great and so propelling social media would blow up breakdowns of the two, follow their production on almost a nightly basis. People who supported Magic and Bird would have a hard time letting Michael Jordan steal the NBA thrones from either of the players it would have taken every ring and NBA Finals MVP and some of the loyalist still wouldn’t bite. 

3. The history of players is viewed much differently with a much closer relationship
So many things take place with professional players on a daily basis and the technological swing invites people to have opinions about the way they live their lives regardless how good or bad they are in the sport itself. Think Riley Cooper, if this was the 1990s he would have gotten away with his harsh comments where phones with a camera weren’t invited to the public yet. Think about all the trouble players have gotten themselves into with Twitter. Well they are just showing off their personalities. Something people didn’t encounter just a short decade ago. 

4. 1990s - Speaking of decades imagine if fans had social media back in the 1990’s. Think about the 1990 Chicago Bulls bandwagon of fans would accrue on the rest of the world. There was just as many strong personalities back in 1990s. Imagine if Dennis Rodman had a Twitter? The amount of fights he would have with the followers... The publicity the 1992 Dream Team would have grown exponentially. There would even be a 1992 Dream Team Facebook following each and every players move. Media would be drooling at the mouth to cover them in today’s world. (*Cough cough* Bleacher Report.)

Just imagine this guy tweeting after a Bulls-Pistons battle on the court...
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Those are just a few of the effects social media would have had in the past the list goes on and on of what type of effect it would have had on the future. 

So why exactly is Michael Jordan still an extremely iconic figure and why does he set himself apart compared too many other greats in many other sports. 

Well first let’s take a look at many of the other greats and their accomplishments:

NFL 

Jerry Rice 

This one is almost a tossup. Mostly if you grew up an NFL fan starting back in the 1960’s there’s a good chance that generation thought Jim Brown was the greatest football player who had ever lived.
Many people now a day’s think Jerry Rice holds that candle so we will do both a favor and take a look at why they were so dominate.

Jim Brown 

Before you read this think about what a swing in technology would have on this dominance, with the way people blow stuff out of proportion 99% of the time. 

Well for starters he blasted onto the NFL season immediately winning rookie of the year honors. Brown had a short 9 year career so he could become an actor. Brown still set practically every rushing record at the time including most yards per carry, most rushing yards in a season, most rushing yards in a career, most rushing touchdowns, and most total touch downs. He was named to the pro bowl ever year of his 9 year career, as physical as he was he never missed a play due to injury.

And to top it off he was the MVP 4 different seasons which are almost half of his career and lead the league in rushing 8 of his 9 years. WOW one season of his entire career he didn’t lead the league in rushing? That has consistency written all over it.

And the most impressive part of all this was the fact that he retired in his prime at the young age of 30. 

Jerry Rice

When is the last time you have ever seen a WR win an MVP award sense the addition of the Super Bowl? It hasn’t been done, so why would people seem to think a WR can be the GOAT? Well here’s why. Jerry Rice is so far ahead of every other WR in NFL history in terms of his on the field impact, records, peak, and prime that no other player at any position really dominated in the fashion he did. Aside from maybe Jim Brown but he’s not even the undisputed GOAT running back which is in dispute with Barry Sanders and even Walter Payton. 

Jerry Rice is #1 in just about every major receiving statistical category, but that’s not really strong enough without understanding how far off #2 in comparison for competition of all time. 

·         The most total touch downs in NFL history regardless of position to Emmitt Smith by 33 total touch downs and he has to rely on the QB throwing his way. 

·         The most receptions (1,549) with Tony Gonzalez (1,280) not even a Wide Receiver but the closest in competition with Jerry Rice for receptions at the tail end of his career and still 269 receptions off. Tight ends known as the ultimate security blanket and yet Rice triumphs any TE in NFL history in terms of reliability. 

·         #1 in receiving yards (22,895) with Terrell Owens trailing at 15,934. A difference of 6,961. That difference alone is a pretty solid career for any WR. Maybe not as much in an air-it-out league nowadays but assuredly 90s and before. You’ve had a solid season if you get a 1000 yards in terms of that Rice would have had just underneath 23 straight seasons of 23 1000 yard season or in terms of dominance 11 2000 yards seasons. 

·         Although total touchdowns was accounted for receiving touchdowns is probably obvious. But just for kicks. Jerry Rice #1 with 197 receiving touch downs. #2 Randy Moss 156 a difference of 41 or perspective 4 seasons of 10 touchdowns a very solid prime for some of the great WR’s of all time.  

·         Jerry Rice went onto 13 pro bowls, 10 All Pro Teams, 1988 SB MVP, and 1st Team All Pro in 2 different decades with 2 different QB’s. He was a part of 5 different SB titles including 1 of the greatest dynasties of all time. 

Jerry Rice was GOAT’s Goat in terms of dominance at one position and in any general position of all time. 

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth remains to be the consensus greatest baseball player to have ever played the game. Many people who aren’t familiar with Babe Ruth and the history mainly recognize him for his great hitting. After all he did post a career average of .342, on base percentage of .474, and a .690 slugging percentage. His .690 slugging percentage and on base plus slugging percentages, 1.164 remain all time leaders in both categories

Babe Ruth revolutionized what it meant to have power. In a pitching ERA when Home Runs were an afterthought Ruth broke open a home run burial leading the league in home runs 12 times. Pitchers also knew just how dangerous he was walking him 1 out of every 5 plate appearances. Babe Ruth got to the point of being so dominate he had more home runs them some entire teams did. 

But when you look a bit closer at his career you would realize how great of a pitcher he was before ever becoming a great hitter. If Babe Ruth decided to make his career solely as a pitcher he could have made the HOF. Babe Ruth had a lifetime record of 94-46 and an ERA of 2.77. His E.R.A is 16th best among all major league pitchers. 5 of the 16 pitchers pitched before 1900 when people barely knew how to hit. 

If that wasn’t dominate enough Ruth pitched his best ball when it mattered most. In the World Series Ruth would go onto pitch 29 scoreless innings a record that would stand for the next 42 years. His World Series record was 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA, or less than 1 run per 9 innings. 

This is testament of truly how great he was. He is the only player who would have most likely gone on to Hall Of Fame as a hitter and as a pitcher. 

To cap off his legacy Babe Ruth would go onto win a total of 7 World Series creating 1 greatest dynasties in sports history with the New York Yankees.   

Wayne Gretzky 

In terms of career accomplishments Wayne Gretzky probably dominated his sport more than any other player in any sport. 

Most Career Goals: 894 

Wayne Gretzky had the most consecutive 40 goal seasons with 12. He had the most career games with 3 or more goals with 50 and the most in 1 season, 10. Since shorthanded goals became a recognized statistic, Gretzky's career total is 10 more than runner-up Mark Messier and 23 more than third-place Steve Yzerman. Wayne Gretzky also had the most playoff goals as well with 122, 13 more than #2 Mark Messier. Wayne Gretzky had the most consecutive scoring titles 7. I think it’s safe to say the dude could score. 

Most career Assists: 1,963 

Not only was Gretzky the greatest scorer he was also the greatest distributor as well. The next highest assist holder Ron Francis comes in at 1,249, or 714 fewer assists. A part of that record was helped by his single season assist record with 163 to beat the previous record of 135.

Gretzky has 7 of the highest single season assist records in NHL history. In perspective the most recent highest total set Joe Thornton with 96 in 2005-2006. 

Gretzky also holds the playoff assist records as well with 260. Imagine that. The next highest playoff assists record held by Mark Messier with 186. 

Not only was he the greatest scorer but he was also the greatest setup man as well. 

Think Magic Johnson combined with Michael Jordan. 

Most Career Points: 2,857 

Naturally since a point is either a goal scored or an assisted goal, Gretzky can only be but the greatest. 

Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins led the League in 2011-12, the most recent 82-game season, with 109 points.

20 Seasons of 140 wouldn’t be enough to catch this record. In the 1984-85 seasons he would go onto score 215 points the most ever in 1 season beating his previous record by 3 just 4 seasons prior. His 215 points were more than half of his entire teams’ total points 426 created by just 1 guy out of 5 starters not including bench. 

En route to his most career points he has the most 100 point seasons with 15 with 13 of those being consecutively also a record. Also holds the highest points per game average with 2.77.  Some teams would love 3 points a game let alone from 1 player. 

Believe it or not he also holds the most points in the playoffs as well with 383. Runner up Mark Messier with 295 or in other terms 77% more than Mark. 

Wayne Gretzky won 8 MVPs, had 6 trips to the Stanley Cup winning 4 of them.  This my friends spells truly and utterly dominance.

So now we are off to the grueling questions of what and why Michael Jordan set him apart from the rest of the pack in terms of publicity. 

Well was it his 6 Championships? No, Babe Ruth got 7 nothing that hadn’t been done. What about his 5 MVPs? No Gretzky shattered that with 8, Jim Brown had 4 more impressively in his 9 year career.
What about point scored? Jordan isn’t even the NBA’s highest leading scorer set by Kareem Abdul Jabaar let alone in 1st place by a wide margin like Gretzky was. Gretzky was even able to dominate and be the greatest scorer and distributor and although different sports still great in his own right.
  
But let’s set aside that Michael Jordan won 6 consecutive finals as a Chicago Bull and 6 finals MVP’s to cap it off. It may be a subjective matter but when taking a look at Wayne Gretzky’s accomplishments they were more impressive than 23’s when in comparison to the competition in NHL history. 

What about legacy? Not only accomplishments but the ability to have 1’s name talked about forever. Well Babe Ruth has accomplished that feat and in an ERA where the Internet was an after, after thought from even the government at the time. 

It may be ERA call it what you want but the reason Michael Jordan stands above the rest in terms of legacy is the brand he created. 

Well for starters the game of basketball is growing each and every year and is widely considered the next best game outside of the Americas sport, NFL. The publicity is already in favor of the NBA over both MLB and NHL. Especially with the way the MLB that’s living a slow painful death, and the NHL that never was in the same boat as either. 

When is the last time you ever heard the phrases “Be like Wayne, be like Jim, be like Jerry or be like Babe”? For starters be like Mike rhymes and it’s super catchy so it sticks in one’s mind. 

Although it’s only been about a decade since MJ departure from the NBA his publicity stands stronger than it ever has and if you didn’t know any better from the medias you would still think Michael Jordan is still playing today. 

From shoe brands, to clothes brands, to TV brands yes Space Jam is one of the greatest sports movies of all time when combined with the super popular Looney Tunes cartoon. The great quotes of all time and the fact that he didn’t make his high school basketball team has helped so many people fight on after they seen what he became with just a strong work ethic. 

Michael Jordan has created a brand we see every day in sports commercials, compared with current NBA stars, and his name or brand get’s brought up on a daily basis in every media related source globally. That’s called branding at its finest.