Switching teams in pursuit of a title has become a pretty customary tradition in the NBA. Instead of sticking around amid turmoil and strife, today’s basketball stars seem to prefer going someplace that gives them the easiest path to a title.
That reality is often a huge talking point for former players, who say the current NBA has lost its nerve.
In a chat with Bill Simmons on “The Ringer,” basketball legend, and current league analyst, Charles Barkley explained a glaring difference between today’s stars and the ones from decades past, using Michael Jordan as an example.
“Michael Jordan didn’t win for a long time. He didn’t say, ‘Hey I can’t beat the Pistons.’ He got better as a player. That’s what really funny about these guys today, they don’t win a championship in first 3 or 4 years it’s, ‘Well I need some help!’ Everyone needs some help.”
Love him or hate him, Barkley does state some facts here. Jordan didn’t win a title until his seventh season in the league. During that stretch, he and the Bulls were getting stomped in the postseason, especially by the Detroit Pistons.
Instead of looking for a way out, or demanding a trade, MJ stuck to his guns and stayed put. He put the burden on his shoulders to get better, and eventually followed through on his mission to win a Chip.
Of course, that’s not to say that things work out like that for everyone. A lot of other players have practiced that same level of loyalty, only to end up retiring having seen minimal team success. Not everyone is willing to take that risk for the sake of principle.
In the end, it’s up to the individual player to decide what’s most important to them: showing loyalty or winning Championships. For MJ, the two just happened to come together.