There’s a curious thing happening here in New York City.
The Rangers are playing some stellar hockey, to the extent that it’s time to think about playoffs, and I mean *deep* into the playoffs.
Then there’s the Jeremy Lin phenomenon on the Knicks, where it’s all anyone is talking about. Even lay people who aren’t into basketball (like yours truly) have been jumping on the #LINning tweet hash tags and wondering what this kid can’t seem to do.
The Rangers are getting their due respect. Henrik Lundqvist is finally coming into his own as an elite goaltender, Ryan Callahan is proving to everyone why he was named Captain of the team and these guys would take a bullet for one of their own teammates. The Knicks are making their fans believers again, to the extent that people who had given up on them a long time ago are coming around again.
That’s not to say everyone is thrilled with these happenings. I’m sure Devils, Isles and Flyers fans don’t care much about how the Rangers are performing (or Bruins fans, for that matter). Is anyone outside of New York following Jeremy Lin-sanity?
So then when anyone brings up the fact that Henrik Lundqvist is a frontrunner for the Hart, Vezina and any trophy that can be anointed to any hockey player not a defenseman, or that anyone is a great player in New York…those who don’t care? Those who like New York sports?
“How many rings does Henrik have again?”
“Has Jeremy Lin won any championships?”
Yes, folks, there are those people who want to piss all over the success of individual players by pointing out their shortcomings in the championship arena.
I could go the shorthand route and say, “Well it’s a team sport and any rings earned is based on team performance.”
But it’s something that any fan goes straight to, regardless of sport. I mean, has everyone turned in Yankees fans to use their team’s overall success to diminish the greatness of a few individual players?
Look at the Devils’ Martin Brodeur. Uncle Daddy Fatso has won three Cups under my watch and he was the star goaltender of those teams. Yet, those teams won as a UNIT with the likes of Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko leading the way. Without those players, I doubt you get to fully appreciate how good Brodeur was for those teams. And yet, when we all point and laugh at Marty, any of their Devils fans are all, “Well, how many Cups has Henrik won?”
Are you FUCKING SERIOUS?
Then there’s the whole Eli Manning ballwashing that has occurred. Not to diminish any of his accomplishments because I’ll even admit that he has shown the capacity to really come through for his team when they need him most. Yet, a few months ago, weren’t his fanbase and the local media throwing him under the bus for…well…whatever reason? Look, mad respect for him…but does he win those rings with any other team? Maybe not.
But then, does that mean he’s one of the best? That remains to be seen. But then we can look at the careers of Jim Kelly or Dan Marino and see that sometimes, life isn’t fair in sports. Some of the best QBs haven’t won ONE ring, let alone two. Then Tom Brady is known for his failures to lead his team to two Super Bowl title when he already has earned THREE with the New England Patriots.
Football is strange though, because there are smaller margins of error in a season, and most games are more critical because there are fewer to play.
Basketball also has those great players who never won a championship. I was a fan back in the day when John Stockton and Karl Malone were the core unit of the Utah Jazz. They’re both Hall of Fame players, and don’t have a ring to their accomplishments. Does this mean they were horrible players? True, they’re not Michael Jordans, but even Dirk Nowitzki won a championship last year with the Dallas Mavericks, when the Miami Heat were all but anointed champions before a game was even played.
And don’t get me started on baseball. I live in New York City, where I have to bear witness to the Yankee ballwashing that goes on a daily basis, 162 games a year, and 365 days a year when it’s all anyone harps on. Forget the “Miracle” 1969 Mets. Forget the Amazin’ 1986 Mets that we still haven’t gotten over. It’s Derek Jeter – BEST SHORTSTOP EVAH according to their fans and local media. How about Mariano Rivera? All-time saves leader and has five rings. But look at the teams they played on. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that those teams won because of the TEAMS and not because of one or two players? Look at the Jazz again. If it were up to one or two players, championships would be easier to come by. Even the 1980s Mets were faltered because of the game of chance.
Which is all some championship seasons are. Chance.
But then, look at the Rangers. If they win the Stanley Cup this year, IF Henrik Lundqvist wins the Vezina or Hart (or that may be one of his teammates, Marian Gaborik), IF IF IF IF…
When someone talks about how great of a season and improbable run as Henrik Lundqvist has had, they’ll say, “Yeah…but he doesn’t THREE CUPS.”
To that, I only have one response.
TAKE THOSE RINGS AND SHOVE ‘EM STRAIGHT UP YOUR ASS KID!!!
To take a team accomplishment and make it into an individual accomplishment defeats the purpose of sports. But hey, it’s a game of one-upmanship for fans to participate in. But it’s a flawed argument and I hope that “real” fans understand the difference.