This NBA’s free agency has been one of the most exciting I can remember in my lifetime. Franchise players are moving to new teams it seems every day (CP3, Paul George, etc.) and plenty of rumors to munch on. The contract values are highest they have ever been — I think the leagues salaries are far outpacing inflation…
One player yet to make his final decision, and that has drawn a lot of national interest, has been Jazz Star, Gordon Hayward. He is weighing his options seriously, visiting the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics before making his final visit with the Jazz (check out this article on his rise). The question to me comes down to a simple would you rather: Would you rather be immortal or have a championship ring? This assumes that you won’t have both…. which is reasonable. The Jazz have yet to get a title (and aren’t likely to ever win one. They need a lot more than just Gordon..) and other teams are poised to capture a championship sooner. Let’s go back to ancient Greek mythology to help us answer this question. See the video below:
You should know the rest of the story… Achilles goes to Troy. He died and his memory was forever cemented (I know this is just one version of the story, but this is a pretty damn popular one). I mean, Hollywood made a movie about Achilles with Brad Pitt portraying him. If Brad Pitt being you isn’t immortality, I don’t know what is. Look, finding the tree of life or the fountain of youth isn’t going to happen, so the closest you can get to living forever is to have your memory and stories carried on about you forever. Death knows every man and woman, but we bury people and have a gravestone for a reason. Anyway, Achilles was a hero to his people first and then known to all. I would think a guy like Hayward has to consider this in his decision. He has to think about the stories that will be told about him after he is retired, or in other words, his legacy.
You want a more recent example? Legacy, that is what Blake Griffin wanted. He told the front office gents, “I want my legacy to be a Clipper.” Wow, I find this so significant and interesting. I think this shows so much awareness of where he is in the historical arch of the NBA. There is an arms race to match the all mighty Warriors and Blake Griffin is saying, “Nah, build around me and I am keeping the red, white, and blue on.” Pretty patriotic, right? These colors don’t run, homie! I bet Balmer ate that up with his cheesy smile. What did Blake do with this move, regardless of the next five seasons? Immortality. Legacy. Whatever you want to call it. He placed himself as The Greatest Clipper of All-Time. Don’t believe me? Name the greatest Clipper of all time? Couldn’t, could you… Did you say CP3? Don’t tell me you said Elton Brand. Chris Kaman?!! Bob Macadoo? Bet you had to google that last one (I had to!) So what if you did! Proves my point. There is not a deep history for Clippers nation. If we can project ourselves 15-20 years from now and I asked you that same question, what will you most likely say? Blake Griffin. Talk about seeing the future! Talk about self awareness! Keep making your silly commercials Blake, you get it. It isn’t about the ring. There is a value in what Blake has chosen to do with his career. The prestige of having a lasting legacy is bigger than just a single ring on a team where he was just a contributor. If you say “Clipper” to me I will say, “Blake Griffin.” If you ask me how many championships Sam Cassell won, I will say, “I have no idea. One? Two? That’s the guy who looks like an Alien?” Am I belaboring the point yet? Do you see what I am getting at? Why chase a ring when you can live forever?
|a billboard funded by fans of the Jazz|
Chasing…that is what Hayward would be doing if he goes East. Yes, he goes to a playoff team (bc the East sucks), but it doesn’t ensure he gets a ring. It is also a place where he is not the center of the team. He isn’t going to be the face of the franchise (maybe more so in Miami, but they still have a ways to go to become a true contender.) There are plenty of players that didn’t win a ring and are still considered in “the greatest players of all time” debate. I would say that it is more likely they will be included in that conversation if they stuck with a team for a considerable amount of time. You think of them and you think of their franchise; it’s synonymous. Guys like Elgin Baylor (Lakers) Gary Payton (Sonics), Allen Iverson (76ers), Stockton/Malone (very relevant to this conversation… although I don’t think the chose to just have legacy and no ring, which I do think the case is here for Hayward), Patrick Ewing (Knicks), Dominique Wilkins (Hawks), Reggie Miller (Pacers), Pete Maravich (another Jazz man!)…. I hope you get the idea.
Here is how I see the facts for Gordon:
1) Gordon is LOVED by Jazz Nation. They bought a freaking billboard for him. They launched a campaign to keep him! HIM! No matter what place he goes to next, he will not be loved the same and he will not be THE face of the franchise for years to come.
2) If he leaves, he loses immortality. He will go down as one of the greatest Jazz players of all time if he stays. If you think that is a stretch just wait and watch him will the Jazz to a few more playoff runs in the very challenging West. Loyalty will pay huge dividends for him. To be part of the Jazz hall of fame is some great basketball company.
3) He is going to a place that doesn’t guarantee anything other than an easier road to the playoffs in the East. He isn’t going to win the whole thing with Boston or Miami, not yet at least (and honestly, beating a team from the west is going to be impossible with the any of the current suitors). If he wants a ring so bad, he could sign a short deal and go somewhere later that can deliver a ring immediately. I don’t really think the grass is that much greener on the east coast.
4) He is not the type of player that will be legendary otherwise. Look at a guy like KG. He was going to have a legacy regardless of a ring. Great that he won a ring with Paul and Ray, but he was a HOF even with the Wolves. The reality of Gordon’s situation is this: he has developed into a very fine player, a desirable asset, but his talents don’t transcend a franchise. He isn’t a KG type of player.
5) He gets paid basically the same.
The question is simple for Gordon. Do you want to live forever?
Yes? Say the magic words, “I want to be a Jazzman.”