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The Narrative: Best Player in the World

 

Who is the best player in the world?  I hear this question all the time. It makes me wonder what exactly are the requirements to be the best player in the world?

This article is a piece from Guest Writer AJ Miles and  was originally published at The Narrative. Check out the original story right here.

Who is the best player in the world?  I hear this question all the time. It makes me wonder what exactly are the requirements to be the best player in the world?  The next logical question would be, “From what perspective are people looking?” So instead of being dismissive to anyone’s opinion on who the best is, I’ll just tell you who I feel is the best player in the world and explain my reasoning.

First, basketball is a team sport, but I’ve noticed that the media is attempting to separate that from the conversation about the best players in the world. On sports talk shows across the globe people are using the argument, “Rings don’t matter because it’s a team accomplishment.” As a former athlete this is confusing because we’ve always been taught that it’s not about the name on the back of the jersey, but the name on the front. This highlights the reality that basketball is a team sport where the totality individual effort and efficiency determines the success of the team.  When one analyzes basketball from this type of team perspective, individual accomplishments do not matter. Unless the team wins the game, so first and foremost that’s essentially where my narrative starts.

When attempting to determine a player’s greatness I’ve always used a quote that is analogous to how I determine a man’s greatness. The quote is, “A man’s ultimate success isn’t a house, car, or how much money he makes, but how well and peaceful his family is living.” To me, this includes the success and happiness of that man’s wife and kids. When a man’s family is successful and happy, then that man has done his job as a man.

I apply this way of thinking to sports as well. There are certain questions I ask that help me determine the best player in the world. These questions are related to how well the player elevates the play of their teammates as well as elevate their own performance.  So with that being said, who is the better teammate? Who elevates everyone around him? Who gets the best out of everybody that comes in contact with him? Who is the best leader? Who embodies this as a player? What team has the most success in the last 3 years alone? That’s easy—the Warriors!

In 2015, the Warriors went 67-15 while pushing through to win the ring.  They had the overall best record in the League that year and they were being led by the one and only Steph Curry. Coming into the 2016 season, the Warriors were feeling disrespected with the Cavs, Spurs, and Thunder being the favorite over them.

The Warriors went 73-9, which was the best overall regular season record EVER, but lost in the tough 7 game series to the Cavs. Led by Steph Curry, but they lost in a 3-1 lead. Even so, their leader Steph takes all the blame for he didn’t play to his normal standards. Not once did he place blame on his teammates. Even when Draymond Green was suspended, Steph still defended him to the public as any good leader would do. He didn’t cry and say they lost to a better team. He took the lumps like a man and started preparing for the next season.

 

Then the Warriors front office added a piece to this already amazing roster that was NOT solely based on talent, but high character, IQ, and chemistry. They brought in a 7-foot efficient scorer named Kevin Durant along with two other veterans, Zaza Pachulia and David West. All three of them fit The Warriors system perfectly and complimented the talents of Steph Curry.  You see, the Warriors knew they had to build the team around Steph Curry (I’ll touch on this later) to be successful.

With these new additions the Warriors were confident they had enough talent and skill to win a championship. So this season they went on to win 67 games, AGAIN, and set a playoffs record going 16-1 while beating the “best player on the planet” the beloved LeBron James in the process. What’s weird to me is how could someone be the best player on the planet, but not be on the best team? But, I won’t get into that right now, I will just prove how Steph Curry is the best player in the world.

So as far as “TEAM accomplishments,” in the last 3 years, the Warriors have the most regular season wins in NBA history with a record of 207-39; best regular season record ever in one season with a 73-9 record; best playoffs record ever with a 16-1 record; two championships; and made it to the finals all 3 times, all while breaking all kinds of records in the process.

Now if a man’s success is determined based on the success of his family, right now Steph Curry is definitely looking like the man. However, critics will say it’s not Steph Curry, it’s the system. So that would mean it has to be the coaching plus the system the coach creates that is more responsible for his success, right?

 

 

On June 14, 2017 ESPN aired a 30 for 30: Best of Enemies mini-series about the Lakers vs Celtics rivalry. This television series taught me a lot about greatness which relates to why Steph Curry is the greatest player in the world. All of the teams in the series had great players, coaching, and systems.

You got to see dynasties like the Celtics that included great players like Bill Russell. Russell’s fast break offense won 11 championships. While, Magic and the Showtime Laker offense won 5 championships. Then you have Larry Bird and his Blue collar Celtic offense that produced the original BIG 3 because of the three great front court players they had –Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, and Larry Bird.

Let’s take it a little further with Isaiah Thomas and the bad boy defense and offense. You had Michael Jordan and the triangle; Kobe and Shaq and the triangle; and Duncan and the motion offense.  All multi-champions and all had systems. But here is the kicker ALL of the systems were built around the best player at that time! And the GM’s put players around them to play off that leader and star.

So my question is how do the Warriors look like the best team if Steph Curry isn’t the best player at this time? This system that everybody applauds was built off Steph Curry’s strengths. People often say, “Steph is the best shooter alive, so they put shooters around him.” They also say, “you can’t play small ball,” “A jump shooting team can never win a championship, ”You live by the 3 and die by the 3,” “A point guard can’t be your best scorer and player, he’s supposed to facilitate,” or “Shoot first point guards never win.”

Well I’ve been a point guard my whole life and I’ll tell you the ultimate job of a point guard isn’t to facilitate. A point guard’s job is to do whatever it takes to win the game. And the hardest job by far in any sport is to get 12 players to be on the same page, to accomplish the same goals, and have the same purpose.

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