So what means more: Kevin Durant’s two championship with Golden State or Giannis Antetokounmpo’s one title with Milwaukee?
I know what I’m picking.
And it’s not even close.
Somewhere, hopefully, Jayson Tatum is paying attention to this, though it is likely he doesn’t care, which is hardly a reflection on Tatum. In the NBA, especially, talented players now look at championships as something on their to-do lists more than they do an enticing challenge. Players in all sports should look at championships the way mountain climbers look at Everest or Alex Honnold, the star of “Free Solo,” eyed El Capitan. But they don’t, mostly because they’re too afraid. Or too entitled. Or too heartless.
Which brings us back to Giannis and last night’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals, which was – and we use this term with the utmost respect and awe – a certifiable Freak Show.
So what if Giannis didn’t beat LeBron James … or Kawhi Leonard … or the Brooklyn Nets at full strength? He beat Durant. He beat the Phoenix Suns. And his teams went a collective 11-2 in Games 3-7 of all playoff series this postseason, which speaks to one thing above all else.
The will to win.
And the will to win with the hand he was dealt.
Why should this mean anything to Tatum? It probably doesn’t, which is a discredit on something far more significant than just one player on one basketball team. Winning, by definition, is supposed to be hard because it requires talent, drive, smarts and, yes, luck. You’re not supposed to be able to engineer it. As a result, it has (or had) great value, something which countless people have pursued as if on a crusade.
But now? Now people just stack rosters and create superteams, either because they’re too afraid to compete against one another or because they just don’t want to put in the effort.
So pay attention, Jayson Tatum. You too, Jaylen Brown. And for that matter, Trae Young, Devin Booker and anyone else, anywhere, with God-given, gift-level talent. Durant still hasn’t won a title that was concocted somewhere other than a conference room. Giannis just won one by actually fighting for it. If you still think those two things have equal meaning, well, you’re missing a rather important point.
The real reason to play sports.