Stop the spin

I haven’t commented much on the NBA Finals lately. I tend to limit these discussion to actual, non-scripted sports like soccer.

But in the wake of Boston’s win over the Lakers in this year’s title series the talking heads have decided to use Kobe Bryant’s inability to somehow will a roster full of tissue-soft Euros and career underachievers to a crown as proof positive that “The Black Mamba” isn’t as good as Michael Jordan.

Some of us already knew that.

But it got me thinking. Why not run through the list of the so-called best evers that you hear kicked about in the never-ending blender over on the four-letter:

Fiction

Kobe is as good as Jordan – No way, no how, not now, not ever. From any statistical measure you want to use (scoring average, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, rings), there’s no comparison.

Kobe’s career numbers are 25.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.5 spg and 0.6 bpg. Michael’s are 30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.3 spg and 0.8 bpg. His playoff averages are better, 33.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 5.7 apg to 24.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 4.6 apg.

Not only would Kobe need to raise his game to reach MJ’s statistical dominance, but he’s fighting the mystique. Michael Jordan hasn’t missed a shot in nearly a decade. Kobe bricked 15 on Tuesday.

Kobe’s the best player in the league right now by a mile. But he’s no Jordan.

Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever – Yeah, he dates a supermodel. Sure he set an NFL record with 50 TD passes last year. And the man already has three rings, which is nothing to sneeze at.

But in the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl, I remember a debate about how winning the fourth ring would cement his status as one of the all-time greats. I think maybe I even agreed.

But upon further review…

Here are your active leaders for passing yards:

1. Peyton Manning 41,626
2. Kerry Collins 34,717
3. Steve McNair 31,304
4. Brad Johnson 28,627
5. Trent Green 27,950
6. Jon Kitna 26,535
7. Tom Brady 26,370

I could go on here, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Now, I’ll put him up there near the top as a playoff or “big-game” quarterback. But an all-time great? Nah, not yet.

Close, but not quite

Sidney Crosby is the next Wayne Gretzky – “The Kid” is great, but he’s only played three pro seasons. Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player who ever lived. He’s the NHL’s all-time leading point scorer and a man who put up video game numbers, like 92 goals in a season back in 1982, before video games were cool.

“The Great One” has high praise for Crosby, even perhaps hinting that he might one day be overshadowed by the young Penguin. But we’re three years in folks. Take it down a notch.

Tiger is the greatest ever – After his gutty performance at the U.S. Open, this one may be close to jumping over into the “fact” pile. But the fact remains that he still trails the Golden Bear by four majors and eight overall titles.

You could also argue that Nicklaus faced tougher competition in his era than Tiger does now. However you want to spin it, I don’t think we can annoit him just yet.

Fact

Barry Bonds is the best baseball player ever – It pains me to write this, but it’s a fact.

Yeah, I know he cheated. His head and feet have morphed over the past 10 years or so and he went from a Hall of Famer to the home run king.

But you’re kidding yourself if you think the playing field was unlevel. Pitchers were cheating, too. So until we decide to toss out everybody’s numbers from the steroid era, Bonds’ stats make a strong case for him as baseball’s all-time best.

He’s a .298 career hitter with 1996 RBI and 514 steals to go with his 762 homers. He’s a seven-time MVP, and three of those came before he discovered better living through chemistry. His career on-base percentage was .444, good for sixth all-time.

And although he spent his final years standing like a statue in the outfield, he also won eight straight gold gloves from 1990-1998.

Make piece with it. Until Alex Rodriguez plays long enough to overtake him, Bonds is the best there’s ever been.

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3 Responses to “Stop the spin”

  1. Blogging With Bryan C. Hanks : Kinston Free Press Says:

    […] The man, the legend — Randy Capps — has another great post on his blog where he discusses the all-time greats and their performances. Do yourself a favor and check it out. […]

  2. Charlie Kraebel Says:

    OK, I think this warrants a point-by-point response:

    1. Kobe Bryant. You’re right on the money with this one. As of today, Kobe still doesn’t have a title without Shaq.
    2. Tom Brady. I think you’re right, for now. At the end of the day, it may be another story. Numbers aren’t the only thing that makes a quarterback great. Peyton Manning throws up awesome numbers, but, with 2007 being the exception, he tends to fold when it counts. Joe Montana’s numbers were never other-wordly, but he was an on-field general. When Brady is done, I think he’ll be up there.
    3. Sidney Crosby. People are making this comparison WAY too early. Some people called Gretzky the Jordan of hockey. Frankly, I think Jordan was the Gretzky of basketball.
    4. Barry Bonds. Bonds is the best player of this generation, easily, just for the stats you listed above. I still think I give the nod for best player ever to The Babe. Don’t forget, he was a World Series winning pitcher, too.

  3. randycapps Says:

    I think a strong case can be made for Ruth, Willie Mays or Hank Aaron as the all-time best player.

    Ruth’s pitching is an interesting dynamic to mix in, but he was not a particularly good fielder and while he stole 123 bases in his career, he was also caught 117 times.

    I’m no Barry Bonds fan, but the man was an amazing baseball player.

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