Even playing for the championship could change the career narratives of some players
By Benjamin Weinberg
The postseason is underway and there is a lot to be excited about. Everyone has the same goal and that is to win a ring. However, only one team will win and solidify their place in history. Basketball is undoubtedly a team game, but let’s take a look at what it would mean for certain players to gain a berth in the finals and how winning a ring this year would affect or even preserve their career legacies.
Chris Paul- Advancing to the finals would mean everything to him. Paul has been one of the most dominant and consistent point guards the past 10 seasons, but still has much to prove in the postseason. This is the third team in his career and he has never reached a conference finals game. Paul’s talent and drive has never been questioned, but his ability to put together a winning season has, so this postseason will be crucial for him. If CP3 is able to win a ring his first season as Rocket, it will not only solidify his home in Houston, but also likely secure his spot in Springfield.
Carmelo Anthony- Anthony has never been to an NBA finals and quite possibly has dealt with more criticism and doubt than any other NBA superstar in the past 10 years. The criticism of Anthony has always been that he doesn’t have the DNA to win and that he shoots too much. This is despite winning March Madness as a freshman at Syracuse and being a four-time Gold Medalist at the Olympics. Anthony is finally part of a team with enough talent that can make a championship run. His tenure with the Thunder and this year’s postseason will greatly affect his legacy. Without a ring, Anthony’s legacy will include him being one of the purest offensive threats of this generation, but put a ring in the mix and Anthony will have done it all.
Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing coming from this analyst but Skip Bayless expects Carmelo Anthony to make his first NBA Finals appearance this year #StayMe7o pic.twitter.com/bmUAFcPN1Z
— Steven Tsakanikas (@SteveTsak) April 14, 2018
Kyle Lowry/ DeMar DeRozan- These two star guards representing Canada’s Raptors have never been past the Eastern Conference Finals and this could truly be the year with the Cleveland Cavaliers possibly making the path a little clearer for the Raptors. If Lowry and DeRozan are able to win a ring this year, they will finally put all the doubters to rest who say they can’t get the job done after the regular season. In addition, a championship this season will most likely solidify that Lowry and DeRozan will play out their careers in Toronto and continue chasing more titles.
Dwyane Wade- The three-time NBA champion has nothing left to prove, but if somehow the Miami Heat are able to come back against the 76ers and win another championship this season, D-Wade will most likely retire and his legacy will forever be labeled as a winner. If Wade, doesn’t secure another title this season, his history will not be tarnished in the least as he has accomplished more in one career than most with three trophies, two All-NBA First Team selections, and 12 All-Star game appearances. But winning with this team would be a super feat, maybe the grandest of all.
Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons- The last time the Sixers were in the playoffs was 2011, but the major story this season has been the emergence of the tandem of Embiid and Simmons. These two bring a lot of exciting youth to the East this year, which is typically dominated by the likes of LeBron. These two teams would also make an extremely exciting matchup down the line. A title for Simmons and Embiid their first year ever in the playoffs would be HUGE for their legacies. There is no doubt anymore that this team can be a dynasty, but to win a ring the first time around would be unbelievable and can start building talk of being that dynasty even sooner.
Giannis Antetokounmpo- Antetokounmpo is having an MVP-caliber season, but the Bucks by no means are favorites to make it to the finals, and they could now be done after one round. If the Greek Freak is able to carry Milwaukee all the way after digging out of the hole against Boston, it would be so heroic. He has clearly has proven himself to be one of the top two-way players in the entire NBA, but if he secures a finals berth this season, he’ll solidify his spot as one of the Kings of the East. However, this is more of a low-pressure postseason for him as the Bucks may not be ready yet to compete. Former head coach, Jason Kidd was fired mid-season, so the players went through some transitions. It will be interesting to see how the Bucks finish out the season. Will they bounce back to tie the Celtics?
LeBron James– It’s extremely difficult to talk about the finals without mentioning James. James knows the postseason better than nearly anyone else in the league and he knows what it takes to win a championship. His legacy is already secured as being one of the best to play basketball, but if he gets his fourth ring this season, I firmly believe he will become known as the best basketball player ever. This season has probably been his rockiest, with so many different players coming and going, but there is no reason why he can’t take his team all the way again.