Every one of us is the main actor in an unfolding drama that is our lives. The decisions that we make, our level of performance, and our character are what shape our stories and our legacies. And it is no different with NBA players. Don’t think so? Just ask LeBron James. There is probably no player in the NBA right now with a higher level of self-awareness about his story and legacy than LeBron James. After becoming the villain of the NBA with his infamous “Decision,” James has turned the script on his own narrative by fulfilling every prophecy that he promised.
Like Aaron Sorkin writing another brilliant script, LeBron James does everything within his power to ensure that his story will become one of the greatest ever told. LeBron knows that his legacy will be defined by the amount of championships that he wins, MVP’s that he earns, and All Star appearances that he makes, so he does everything possible to control his own destiny.
Unfortunately, we do not have the same amount of power with our own lives as we do with the power of the pen and the fictional characters that we create. We all know what differentiates a good story from a bad story, but often times we do not have the power or wisdom to make our stories mimic the great Hollywood films that we watch or in the case of sports, stories such as Michael Jordan hitting a game winning shot in the NBA Finals.
No, life is much more complicated, unexpected, and difficult to narrate and direct than we think. Stuff happens and we are not in control of our lives as much as we think we are. Every athlete wants to have a great story and win multiple championships, but the path toward that story is another story altogether. Perhaps it is a debilitating injury, a general manager who surrounds you with the wrong supporting caste, or because you just made some really unwise decisions, but regardless of what the reasons may be, these are a list of the top 10 players whose current legacies are in jeopardy and are in serious need of their scripts being flipped.
10. Deron Williams
Remember when Deron Williams was in the same debate as Chris Paul for being the best point guard in the NBA? Shoot, I was actually a proponent for D-Will being the best point guard in the NBA at one time, but those days are now long gone. Deron had surgery on his ankles again just a week ago for the 100th time and it is obvious that his body is breaking down on him. Fortunately for himself, he got a hefty contract thanks to a Russian billionaire, unfortunately for Nets fans, it does not look like Deron will be making any All Star teams any time in the future, let alone leading this overly paid roster to a championship.
9. Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is beloved by Bay Area fans and it is obvious why. Once you watch Curry play, it is easy to understand why he is so fun to watch. Curry effortlessly shoots 3-point balls like most NBA players shoot free throws. He has even been able to overcome the narrative that he is super injury prone. Curry flipped that script with two relatively healthy seasons in a row. However, with yet another head coach heading into next season, Curry will have to adjust to a different system that he will have to learn for the first time. The Warriors have a great roster, but with the depth in the West, unless Curry can get further in the playoffs, he will simply be known as a player that was pretty injury prone and could shoot the ball.
8. Paul George
Paul George was in the MVP conversation early on in the season, but his name was brought up in several rumors and controversies, which really had an affect on his play during the second half of the season. George is a legitimate two-way player and is still very young, but George will be in the shadow of the Heat and LeBron James until he is able to beat them in the playoffs. And by the looks of it, that may never happen.
7. Kevin Love
Good stats on a bad team and that is Kevin Love. Love is the reincarnation of Moses Malone and regularly puts up double-doubles in his sleep. But the 3-point shooting big man has never even been to the playoffs, let alone the NBA Finals. For all of Love’s assets and talents, he has clearly shown that he cannot lead a team to the playoffs. As of right now, the story with Love is that he is good at putting up inflated stats on bad teams. Any real superstar can lead a group of good role players to the playoffs, but Love has been unable to do that up to this point in his career.
6. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook may go down as the most athletic point guard in NBA history, but he will be remembered more for not knowing his role on his team, his inability to be a pure point guard, and for forcing up shots, unless he is able to help lead his team to a NBA Championship. Russ is a one man wrecking crew on offense, but his IQ is going to have to catch up to his athleticism if he is going to be remembered for more than just being a freak of nature.
5. Derrick Rose
We have already forgotten this, but Derrick Rose was the MVP while LeBron James and Kevin Durant were still playing. That is how good Rose was, but his name has almost disappeared off the map entirely with his debilitating knee injury. When Rose was healthy, he had dynamite in his shoes and even developed a consistent 3-point shot. However, the story out on Rose right now is that he is too explosive for his own good and that his body cannot handle the style of play that he has grown accustomed to all of his life. If Rose is not able to alter his game a little bit with more tear drops and less dunks, he may only become known as an athletic point guard that was very injury prone.
4. Kevin Durant
As of right now, Kevin Durant is on the list of MVP’s who have never won a NBA Championship. Durant has often talked about being number 2 for most of his life and how he wants to be number one. He got that this year with his MVP award, however, Durant has still fallen short of being a championship player. There have been many great players such as Karl Malone and Charles Barkley who have never won a ring, and right now, Durant finds himself on that list. Unless Durant is able to flip the switch with a championship, he will be the Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, of his generation, while LeBron James will be the Michael Jordan of this generation.
3. Dwight Howard
In a NBA world without any old fashioned big men and a plethora of jump shooting 4’s and 5’s, Dwight Howard stood head and shoulders above the rest. Howard led the young Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals early on in his career, but he was still too young to know what he was up against. Nevertheless, the world was still very bright for Howard, until the Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy saga began. Soon enough, Howard was on his way to Los Angeles and then to Houston. Howard has suffered a series of injuries the past few years, but he was able to have a relatively healthy season this past year. However, he is still a long way from being what the defensive force that he once was.
2. Chris Paul
Chris Paul continues to prove to everyone that he is the best point guard in the league, however, he has no rings to validate that he is a winner. As Skip Bayless has said, CP3 is really CP0 because he has zero rings on his resume as of right now. Paul is truly the second coming of Isiah Thomas, but the feisty point guard is going to have win a ring if he is going to cement himself as one of the all-time greats that have ever played the game. Until then, he will continue to prove the theory that point guards cannot be the best player on a championship team unless your 6’9” and your name is Magic Johnson.
1. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony already has a scoring title and may be the best scoring machine in the NBA today. However, his reputation has been tarnished over the years due to his supposed selfishness on the basketball court and lack of leadership. Despite Anthony’s offensive repertoire, he was unable to lead the New York Knicks to the playoffs this year, and has never made an appearance in the NBA Finals. Melo’s stock as of right now could not be lower, and while the rest of his 2004 draft class has been accumulating rings in their portfolio, Melo has gone fishing every offseason. If Melo is unable to reinvent his game and get more help, he will go down as one of the best players to never have won a ring; a legacy that Melo wants to avoid at all costs.