Sports media is a whole lot different from the other media in the world. There is a lot of opinion that gets thrown around every day, including this column and others written by the Signpost sports staff.
Piggybacking is rampant. Trends are started and they are built upon, even for entire seasons of a certain sport. I can’t tell you how tired I got a few years ago when every NFL show had the discussion of which quarterbacks were elite and which ones weren’t. Everyone had a different opinion, or left someone off that another person had.
The same thing is happening right now, and it has already gotten out of hand. Just last month, LeBron James, who most consider the best basketball player in the world right now, was asked a question by NBA TV analyst Steve Smith. The question: “Who is your Mount Rushmore of the NBA?”
James wasn’t hesitant in his first three choices — Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. He then took a long pause, racking his brain for several seconds before saying Oscar Robinson.
The next day, seemingly hundreds of people, analysts and former players alike, took to TV, Twitter or some other form of media to give their own choice. Some even blasted James for leaving off certain players, mainly Bill Russell, who won 11 championships in his 13-year career, including eight in a row for the Boston Celtics.
James went on to say that he foresees himself on the future Mount Rushmores after his career is over, which could very well happen.
Now, a day after this remark, go ahead and talk about it. But nearly a month later, it is time to give it a rest. Seemingly every sport had its own discussion. Who are on the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks? Who are on the Mount Rushmore of shortstops? So on and so forth. I just saw a new list Tuesday, the Mount Rushmore of sports rants.
Enough is enough already. What’s next, the Mount Rushmore of water boys? I have no problem with discussion of the all-time greats. But there are at least two reasons why making a Mount Rushmore of anything is just dumb. I will focus on the NBA, but I believe these reasons apply to every attempt.
First of all, the game of basketball fields five different positions on the court at the same time. There are point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers, although centers have been a somewhat dying breed of late.
Four spots for five different positions is just tough. Even choosing the best player from each position to ever play the game is an impossible task. No one will agree to a universal list.
Second, the theory of Mount Rushmore is laughable. If you look at the actual Mount Rushmore, only three presidents actually belong on there. George Washington, the first president, led us through the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acquired the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. Abraham Lincoln led the U.S. through the Civil War and is the reason the country is still one country.
What did Teddy Roosevelt do? He had the monument built. That’s pretty much it, in my opinion. So just the fact that Roosevelt is on there at all makes me laugh. That is a big-headed thing to do. If it were redone, the other Roosevelt would probably take his place.
With 44 presidents, it might be a little easier to choose a top list. But there have been thousands of basketball players. Even a top 50 list is tough to make. There are just too many players who were amazing. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Tim Duncan. The list is already too long.
So please, enough with this Mount Rushmore talk. It is already stale and it can never be done. Just let the greats be great. Don’t compare different eras and generations. Let’s just enjoy the game and enjoy who came before and who is to come.