You want to start a never-ending bar discussion that just might degenerate into an out and out bar room brawl? Ask the guys in the bar who the greatest player of all time is. Yes, that's right, ask them who the GOAT is.
It sounds like a harmless enough question, something that can be the subject of a rather fun discussion, maybe even elicit a few laughs.
But then again, that depends on who one asks. There are some fans that will - quite literally - fight you over their choice of GOAT.
In the basketball world, there seems to be an easy enough answer, a rare consensus that is, that Michael Jordan, His Airness, is the sport's greatest of all time.
It'd be a compelling case: multiple NBA championships, multiple MVP awards, multiple defensive player of the year awards, All Star from Day 1, the man who basically turned the game of basketball into a global game, arguably the most popular athlete of his generation, and one of the most popular of all time regardless of sport.
And this, Praxedes, is where I must throw a monkey wrench into the works.
It is well-documented how much I do not subscribe to the notion of a Most Valuable Player. Let me know declare, using a similar line of argument, that I now believe there can be no such thing as a greatest of all time, no way is there a GOAT.
Allow me to explain, Praxedes, using a similar tack as the MVP argument.
Basketball is a team sport, so by that very fundamental principle alone, no one player could ever win on his own. There is no way, for example, that one could take say fourteen Division 3 scrubs, complete their roster with the 25-year old Michael Jordan, and expect them to become NBA champion. I would bet even money they might even become the worst team in the league. Sure, Jordan would in all likelihood score 50 points per game and put on a show every night, but a team this awful just cannot win, even with the nominal GOAT on their roster.
Think about all of the players who have ever been in the GOAT conversation: Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, Oscar Roberston, Bill Russell, Trim Duncan and on and on and on.
Each of those men are in the conversation because they are champions, they have the individual awards, and they have those "intangibles" that made them all winners.
One of the things I think that is conveniently left out of this conversation is that the times they won they all had at least one other teammate who was himself an All Star. Heck, Magic and Kareem won five championships together on those Showtime Lakers teams. Jordan, for all of his wondrous talent, had the greatest sidekick in the history of the NBA in Scottie Pippen. Pippen may not have won a thing without Jordan, but Jordan, arguably won as much as he did thanks in large part to Pippen.
You don't think having great teammates mattered for these guys? What if Magic was only passing to say Mike Smrek and Adrian Branch instead of Kareem and James Worthy; would that still have been Showtime? What if Bird only had David Thirdkill and Fred Roberts and never had Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish? What if Jordan only had Larry Neal instead of Pippen? What's that, Praxedes? You never even heard of those other guys? Would it surprise you to know that all of those guys really were teammates of those aforementioned GOAT candidates during their respective times with the Lakers, Celtics, and Bulls?
Imagine Jordan or Magic on say the Los Angeles Clippers, or the Vancouver Grizzlies, of their time, and I would still wager even money that they would not have won with either of those teams either. For all of an elite superstar's talent and powers, the very nature of the game of basketball precludes any one player from being able to carry an entire team all by himself all the way to a championship.
Let us just imagine what such a player would have to do. He would probably have to score over 50 points per game, deliver a triple double with rebounds and assists every game as well, maybe thrown in two to three blocks, and two to three steals per game, be able to shoot 50% from three-point range, at least 60% overall from the field, and at least 90% from on freethrows. If he could, he should never ever foul out, or get a technical, or miss a game due to discipline or injury. He would also have to lead his team to the championship every year, meaning if he has a typical NBA career that he would have led his team to 10 straight championships assuming he has a 10-year career. Given all of the foregoing he would also be a 10-time MVP, maybe at least a 5-time Defensive Player of the Year, definitely he would be an historic Rookie-MVP, taking after Chamberlain and Wes Unseld. Only under all of those circumstances would anybody be the GOAT, that is how impossible
To local basketball fans, he may not ring a bell. But in the international stage, Dionisio (Chito) Calvo stood tall.
The late Calvo is lone Filipino who is enshrined in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame.
Calvo was among the first batch of 43 personages to be inducted into the FIBA Hall in March 2007.
Calvo was one of the 24 posthumous inductees under the ?contributors? category.
Calvo was the head coach of the Philippine Olympic team that ranked fifth during the 1936 Berlin Games. The games marked the first time that basketball competitions were held. The fifth-place finish remains the highest ranking by an Asian country in Olympic men?s basketball history.
Calvo also piloted the PH national team to 12th place in the 1948 London Olympics.
Likewise, he mentored the Filipinos to the men?s basketball gold during the inaugural Asian Games in New Delhi, India in 1951.
As an organizer, Calvo initiated the formation of the Asian Basketball Confederation in 1960. The ABC has since been renamed as the FIBA Asia Championship.
According to the official FIBA book ?The Basketball World,? the idea of putting up the ABC was first brought up in 1958 in Tokyo by basketball leaders from various Asian countries competing in the Third Asian Games, a multi-sport quadrennial event that included basketball.
An urgent need was felt to set up a regional controlling body for basketball in Asia and a temporary committee under the chairmanship of Calvo was constituted to look into this possibility.
Through the efforts of Calvo, the first Asian Conference and Basketball Championship for Men was initiated in January 1960 in Manila.
Seven nations ? Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaya (now Malaysia) and the Philippines ? saw action in the tournament.
Along with Pakistan, they also attended the Conference at which the draft constitution of the ABC was adopted and the participating countries admitted as members.
Call it homecourt advantage, the Philippines romped away with the first ABC title in 1960, winning all of its nine assignments.
Carlos Badion was named the tournament?s Most Valuable Player.
The ABC was not officially founded until the second Asian Conference and Basketball Championship for Men was stage in Taipei in November 1963.
Attended by representatives from nine countries, the ABA constitution and bylaws were ratified during the gathering. Officials such as then-Philippine Senator Ambrosio Padilla, president, and Calvo, secretary general, were elected to lead the organization.
The Conference additionally resolved to hold men?s championships biennially, while avoiding the even-numbered years wherein the Summer Olympic Games and Asian Games were staged.
In the local basketball scene, Calvo also organized the post-graduate Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) league in 1938.
The MICAA, of course, was the precursor of the professional Philippine Basketball Association PBA).
A side note: The late Gonzalo (Lito) Puyat II was once a candidate for the FIBA Hall of fame but the former two-term FIBA president (1976-84) failed to make the grade.
Danny Biasone, the owner-president of the Syracuse Nationals (the forerunners of the Philadelphia 76ers) during the early years of the National Basketball Association, was credited for the creation of the 24-second shot clock rule in the National Basketball Association.
The Italian-born Biasone was turned off by the constant stalling tactics that were being employed by the teams during the games played in the 1950s.
The dull and farcical games had to stop and so Biasone convinced his fellow NBA club owners to adopt a shot clock rule for games starting with the 1954-55 season.
How did the shot clock come down to 24 seconds?
Said Biasone: ?I looked at the box scores from the games I enjoyed, games where they didn?t screw around and stall. I noticed each team took about 60 shots. That meant 120 shots per game. So I took 48 minutes ? 2,880 seconds ? and divided that by 120 shots. The result was 24 seconds per shot.?
Together with Nats general manager Leo Ferris, Biasone developed the 24-second shot clock.
The novel rule prevented the teams from holding the ball without any restrictions and forced them to hoist a field goal within 24 seconds of gaining ball possession.
The rules change also would mean a faster game and higher scoring.
True enough, the NBA game became fast-paced and the offense perked up with the introduction of the 24-second shot clock during the 1954-55 wars.
The league?s scoring average leapfrogged to 93.1 points per game (from 79.5 ppg) and the clubs combined to hit .385 from the field (up from .372 in the previous season).
From 150.7 field-goal attempts per game in 1953-54, the two teams combined for 172.8 floor shots in every game during the following season.
The 24-second shot clock rule made its NBA debut on October 30, 1954, with the Rochester Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) knocking off the Boston Celtics, 98-95.
Ironically, Biasone?s Nats were the biggest winners in 1954-55, snaring the NBA championship with a 4-3 decision over the Fort Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons in a seven-game Finals that saw the home team emerge triumphant each time.
Biasone died in 1992 but he will always be remembered as the creator of the 24-second shot clock rule.
In 2000, Biasone was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame under the contributor?s category.
8. Cafe France channels their inner Blackwater to beat NLEX. Cafe France, a team made up mostly of the core of the Centro Escolar University Scorpions of NAASCU, became only the second team in the last six years to beat mighty NLEX for the PBA D League championship. 6-foot-5 import Rodrigue Ebondo of Cameroon made the buzzer-beating title-clinching basket in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the Foundation Cup conference. "Ibigay ko daw sa kanya ang bola at siya na gagawa, so binigay namin sa kanya at nag-deliver siya," exclaimed Coach Egay Macaraya. NLEX has been mostly the resident champion of the D League with their always-loaded lineup. This Foundation Cup lineup was made up of the core of NCAA Dynasts San Beda. However, they had to make do without their San Beda stars in this game, as the Red Lions had to focus on the NCAA season that already opened at around this same time. They still had a formidable roster though, with eventual PBA first round draftees Troy Rosario, Chris Newsome, and Scottie Thompson leading the way. But it just was not enough to overcome the tough Bakers who were hungry for their first ever D League crown.
9. There were some question marks in the PBA Draft. This does not pertain only to Talk N Text somehow winding up getting the top two picks - 6-foot-7 Tongan-born Mo Tautuaa, and 6-foot-7 Gilas Pool mainstay Troy Rosario - but also to some picks that just seemed not to make all that much sense. For example, how did Roi Sumang wind up all the way down into the third round? Many draft projections had him going as early as the second half of the first round. Sumang was an outstanding amateur who looked PBA-ready, yet GlobalPort still saw him available all the way down to the third round. To their credit the Batang Pier did grab him right away, and even made him the first draftee signed up by the club that picked him. "Nung nakita namin na andun pa si Roi kinuha na namin talaga, nagtaka pa nga kami bakit andun siya," said Coach Pido Jarencio after drafting Sumang. Then Letran star Mark Cruz, Don Trollano, Simon Enciso, Abel Galliguez, Bradwyn Guinto all also wound up going into later rounds. One long-time TV Panel guy perhaps summed it up best when he admitted on air, "I don't really know Don Trollano." Quite an admission considering he also covers the D League, where Trollano was an off again-on again Best Player of the Game. My money is on these guys besting at least three players taken in the first round over their respective careers.
10. Steve Kerr and the Lacobs and make Stef Curry and Golden State NBA Champions. His draft appraisal has always been a constant source of inspiration for Stef Curry. The remarks in it, in fairness, were pretty accurate for him coming out of college: too small to be an NBA 2-guard, can't really play the point, not strong enough, not athletic enough, just a shooter. Lo and behold whoever put that together must still be getting it from all of his buddies, if not the entire scouting fraternity. But that is just making another Kerr story to add to his growing legend. If it wasn't for Golden State team owners the Lacob Brothers, and Steven Kerr, at the time a rookie coach, maybe Curry would still be just another flashy shooter type. The Lacobs put together the team that would turn the NBA on its ear, and make Curry the best player on the planet. Making it all work together is the genius that is Kerr. Who would have thought that guys like Draymond Green, Mo Speights, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, and Andre Igoudala would ever form the core of a championship team? All of them were the prototypes for players who would forever be "missing something" that would make them just role players or journeymen all their lives. Turns out they were all long, athletic, tempo-pushing types that could beat anybody at any time. Now they are NBA champions, Curry the MVP, and they look set to make it a back-to-back title romp sooner rather than later.
11. The death of the big name high school superstar. Quick (and no Googling), name the last UAAP, NCAA, or Tiong Lian MVP who became both MVP and champion at least once during his college career. I'll make it a little easier: even if it was not necessarily the same year. Now I'll make it a little harder: who was the last UAAP, NCAA, or Tiong Lian MVP and champion, who also became a UAAP or NCAA MVP and champion, who also became a PBA MVP and champion? If the answer to this last question is a player who has been in the PBA for more than 10 years, I guess it is safe to say the big name high school superstar has really been dead for the longest time. Some might argue that Terrence Romeo is the closest thing, and he is relatively young. However I cannot take him into consideration because 1) He never won a UAAP senior division championship, and 2) He has yet to become a PBA champion or MVP, so he really is not even close.
12. The truly talented Fil-Am players chose not to come
When this was a column and not a blog it used to be called The Morning After. Now that it is the middle of January it might as well be called the year after. And in truth the year 2015 was quite a year for basketball, not just here but everywhere else. Here are my best memories of basketball for 2015, in no particular order, just listed down as I recall them:
1. Junemar Fajardo finally emerges as the best damn PBA player ever. He led San Miguel Beer to two out of the three conference championships at stake last PBA season. He is without a doubt the best player in the league. He has the size and strength advantage over everyone except Greg Slaughter, but is a much more instinctive player; the game just comes so naturally to him. Fajardo will compile the numbers, the individual accolades, the championships, and hopefully the international titles that will eventually make him the greatest PBA player ever.
2. The San Miguel Group decides not to join the National Team. Well, except for Marc Pingris, and even that was perhaps due to the fact that he was the least superstar-y of the players the Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas wanted for Gilas 3.0. Fajardo, Slaughter, Marcio Lassiter, LA Tenorio, Japheth Aguilar all were simply not made available for Gilas 3.0, whether or not that really was SMC Management's call or not, perhaps only Al Chua will really ever know. In truth not all of them were needed. But the ones who were - Fajardo (backup at 4 and 5 to the naturalized Andray Blatche), Lassiter (arguably the best game-time shooter now in the country), Aguilar (FIBA-level size and atlheticism at the 3, 4, 5) really could have made a huge difference in FIBA competition. The basketball public just plain hammered the SMC Group for this decision.
3. Gilas 3.0 gets royally screwed by the Chinese in the FIBA Asia Finals. Seriously, no one who knows the game, or even those who only casually follow the game, all said the same thing: Chine, as strong as they already were, still decided to pull a fast one on the Philippines during the FIBA Asia Finals. Jayson Castro's inexplicable travel while he was STILL DRIBBLING was only the highlight. Throughout the entire championship game, the officiating was all about making absolutely sure that China would make a return trip to Olympic Basketball. We should've known. They already pulled the same thing against Iran in the semis. Still, a silver medal finish with a team that was less than ideal, and heavily derided, isn't bad at all.
4. Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva get some unequivocal love from the fans thanks to their Gilas 3.0 stint. Abueva probably said it best, "Ngayon lang ako nakaranas na buong Pilipinas sinusuportahan ako, ganito pala feeling." When The Beast made the cut and was named to Gilas 3.0 many fans were wondering how the barely 6-foot-2 forward would fare against the giants of international play at his position. Turns out he either stayed toe to toe with them or best them using the same things he uses that infuriate non-Alaska fans: toughness (ok, gulang, and even good old fashioned pananalbahe), a nonstop motor, that extra gear, and his all-out relentlessness on both ends of the court. Romeo on the other hand could not have picked a better time to dye his hair. He put so many veteran international players on skates. He shot over guys that supposedly would finally be big enough, athletic enough, and tough enough to cover him, and that he would never get away with what he gets away with at home. Yeah, right. I was never a fan of either of these guys for purely non-basketball reasons. But as a basketball fan, c'mon people, these guys had a heck of a coming out party with Gilas 3.0.
5. Letran pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent college basketball memory, wresting the crown from San Beda. How on earth a team that small, without an import, could have made the run that they did, still amazes fans to this day. When last season's NCAA Finals match-up turned out to be San Beda-Letran, everybody and his brother just knew that this would be another cakewalk for the Red Lions, all the way to their sixth straight NCAA championship, and ninth in the last ten trips to the NCAA Finals. Lo and behold, the Knights played their own version of small ball and show-mismatch all the way to the title. Too bad the coach that led them here then signed up with Lasalle just a few weeks after.
6. FEU ends its own 10-year title drought by taking home the UAAP championship. Just like Letran in the NCAA, the Tamaraws last had a championship in 2005. Unlike the Knights however, the Tams were simply overwhelming last season. There were games they seemed to simply be on cruise control, toying with opponents they knew they could easily take, and literally taking them to school. Their comebacks never had that feeling of dread in them at all. It just seemed inevitable that regardless how big the deficit