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Mark Cuban calls championship argument for validating players ‘the stupid, macho element’ of sports

Dec 24, 2012, 5:01 PM EDT

Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki Getty Images

If you’re a passionate NBA fan who likes to discuss the game with others, then invariably you’ve heard (but hopefully not given) this response when comparing one player’s impact to that of another.

“Oh yeah? Who has more championships?”

It’s become known mockingly as the “COUNT DA RINGZ” defense, used most often when comparing the skills of say, Kobe Bryant (who has five of them) to those of somebody else.

It’s ridiculous to a point, because there are so many more factors that go into winning championships in any professional sport, and especially in basketball, where the best teams usually require a minimum of two, but sometimes three or four superstar-level performances over the course of a postseason to accomplish that ultimate goal.

Mark Cuban, being one of the most involved owners the NBA has, knows this perhaps better than anyone.

The Mavericks have had Dirk Nowitzki playing at the level of the league’s elite for the majority of his 14 seasons in Dallas, but he was never recognized to be as great as he was by many thanks to the ring being the thing as far as most fans are concerned.

Cuban answered questions on Reddit on Monday, and this was one that came up. He delivered the following thoughtful response (sic, via USA Today):

Question: Why do basketball players only get recognition after they’ve been a part of a championship team? For instance, Dirk has been an amazing player for 10 years now, but only got the respect he truly deserved from fans after having a championship caliber supporting cast (Including coaches) around him. If it’s a team game, why do players only get appreciated after they accomplish something that’s mostly out of their control (Since, most of the time, they don’t decide who they get to play with)?

Cuban: Thats the stupid , macho element of all professional sports. Its a lot easier to just pin a lable on someone than to actually do the work to determine the impact of a player. ITs the same reason everyone over values scoring in the NBA. Scoring is usually the easiest part of the game.

Laser-accurate response from Cuban, there.

Nowitzki is one of the greatest players of his era — as much for his unique skill set given his seven-foot tall frame, as well as for how much he’s proven to be capable of dominating over the years.

Thankfully, he got his championship ring with an incredible postseason run in 2011, so those more casual fans officially don’t have this silly argument to use when trying to diminish Nowitzki’s career in a poor attempt to compare All-Star talent.

But it shouldn’t ever come to that, at least from an intelligent fan of the game. And Cuban recognizes that.

  1. jtchernak - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Next time provide the user who asked the question and give them credit instead of just saying question

    • kindasporty - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM


      I agree. If the words are good enough to post on your website to help you get more page views, the least you can do is give credit to the person who said it.

  2. losanginsight - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    What else you you expect Cuban to say? That his team has underachieved for the last 15 years and the stars aligned for his only Championship. He wishes he had Kobe for the last 16 years winning rings. He would have a different perspective that only Lakers, Celtics,and Yankees fans could understand. Look up at the rafters.

    • badintent - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:17 PM

      Vanessa Byrant here…………….”My $ 5 million dollar ring is better than all of my ex’s rings combine. “

  3. jckid21 - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Seriously……these guys are paid so well that their children’s kids will love comfortably. If they are defined by the amount of championships they win it is more than justified by the sheer fact THAT THE TOP TIER PLAYER IS PAID TO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS. When is the last time an owner said I gave that guy a 100 mil contract to look pretty in my team uniform. Come on man!

  4. fanofevilempire - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    some people think because they have money they know a lot, this is not true!

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:56 PM

      Thumbs downs courtesy of rich idiots.

  5. conjecture101 - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    When the game becomes about something other than winning, its no longer worth playing, coaching, or watching. That is precisely the reason why we wont remember Mark Cuban 20 years from now, but we WILL remember Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Shaquille O’Neal!!

    • professoressadiesel - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      So in 20 years, no one is going to remember Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, and Charles Barkley??


      Pretty sure any knowledgable NBA fan will remember Cuban in 20 years as well…

      • conjecture101 - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:41 AM

        Sure they will be remembered; as players worse than Michael Jordan. No one ever makes the argument that any of those players are remotely close to MJ in terms of greatness. I wonder what that’s about?

    • badintent - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:20 PM

      I’m pretty damn sure Mark Cuban and his $$$ billion dollar lifestyle won’t remember you.

      • conjecture101 - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:39 AM

        What’s your point? I’m not denying Mark Cuban is a rich and successful businessman, I’m just disputing his notion that a competition is about something other than winning because the second it becomes that the game is destroyed.

  6. dadawg77 - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    When it comes to evaluating the best player, using championships has more value in basketball then any other sport. While there are other thing at play, in the playoffs the best face off. Thus we see the best players posting each other.

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:58 PM

      Two words: Wilt Chamberlain.

      • dadawg77 - Dec 28, 2012 at 5:57 PM

        Three Words: Russel was better.

  7. soopreme - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    I agree with his argument but to use Dirk as an example is laughable because all he could really do was score, he was below average in every other phase of his game and he was a terrible defender (never made an all defensive team in his career).
    Now comparing Kobe and Lebron is the real example. Anyone who would pick Kobe over Leboron to start a team doesn’t know anything about basketball and I don’t care how many rings Kobe has.

  8. davidly - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    He’s right, though his head should hurt from having been clobbered with the irony. Anyway, name one player with a bunch of rings that wasn’t surrounded by a crap-load of talent and a coach who used them well.

    Still: Nowitzki had it all come together just right for one season, so it’s funny that Cuban would be the guy to address this issue, since he’s the one who made damn sure Dirk wouldn’t be sporting any more rings.

    • dirtydavis - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:43 AM

      Bob Pettit .. Nuff said

  9. dirtydavis - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    I agree..
    K.malone > dirk

    • money2long - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      k malone > a lot of people

  10. dirtydavis - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Even more credit for Shaq and Kobe.. 2superstars + 5 roles players= 3peat. Weak era or not those two were the best players during that time.

    • rexgrossman8 - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:19 PM

      Tim Duncan did alright for himself during this time.

      • dirtydavis - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:41 AM

        Duncan & Robinson did work too

  11. shockexchange - Dec 24, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    However, when the Shock Exchange refers to Kobe as “Horry Jr” because he had the benefit of playing on teams with “exceptionally more talent than the rest of the L,” nobody calls him brilliant; everybody gets mad and calls him names.

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:01 PM

      Tell the Shock Exchange I said that’s a good one, Merry Christmas, etc.

    • badintent - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM

      The only HOF to play with and win a ring with almost no talent around him was Rick Barry. ! Golden State Warriors. Funny, he was a great shooter, great passer, and was criticized his entire 16 year career for not playing much D. Like Dirk.He and Dr.J were the only 2 players to win MVP in scoring titles in both ABA and NBA. Rich and Wilt were the only ones to average over 35 a game until MJ came along. Just saying……………………….

    • loungefly74 - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:17 AM

      you are right…kobe did benefit from being surrounded by great players. thats what great organizations do to win, right? (thats a no-brainer, man). anyway, not sure if you remember, kobe was a major pivitol player on thoses title teams…he had an “alpha” role…along with shaq. now, bigshot bob, love the guy, was a role player on all those title teams. hey, still an important guy…but just had a smaller role. make sense?

      anyway…merry chistmas you crazy mofo.

      • shockexchange - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:33 AM

        Merry Christmas to you too loungefly74 – “The Ubiquitous One”

  12. BigBeachBall - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Jerry Buss – 10 titles
    Mark Cuban – 1 title

  13. jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    One thing about Cuban: he tells it to anyone who will listen. Because of this he’ll be remembered for at least another 20 years. Probably always be remembered in Texas, like Chuck Norris and Larry Hagman. Dirk Nowitzki has been amazing and while I’m far from a Mavericks fan or Heat hater, it was great to see Dallas win a championship with him, especially against LeBron. Of course, it was great to see LeBron finally win a championship, too. After all: King James’ the best in the business, today, with Melo and Kevin Durant close, especially KD.

  14. pike573 - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    I find myself agreeing with Cuban less and less these days (probably because I follow him on Twitter now) but he is 1000% correct in his entire assessment. The rings defense is lazy and unintelligent.

  15. halfbaht - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Label* nice proof reading chump

  16. loungefly74 - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    players are elevated to a higher plane of existance when they have the rings, it’s true…no cheapshot at greats like ewing, malone, or barkley but i bet they would be regarded in a better light…if they had the ring(s)…but still great guys…though…

    see whats happening here? i feel like i have to make an excuse for them. and thats it. a title just adds that extra notch of greatness.

    sorry…just not a fan of down-playing winning a title. winning it all is why we(they) play.

    • aboogy123456 - Dec 25, 2012 at 12:59 AM

      I actually don’t think that the title is why they play the game and what it’s all about. Most fans like myself can’t afford to go to overpriced playoff games. Going to bullets and wizards games growing up first made me love the nba, and it’s the daily basketball nights that make the nba great.

      What I’m trying to say is that you need the championship so teams are actually playing for something, but the true essence of the NBA is the regular season. This is why I appreciate players that bring it every night because they love the game. I get so disappointed when I see guys like Lebron and wade sit out the last couple regular season games so they can rest for the playoffs, while people pay to see those games.

  17. aboogy123456 - Dec 25, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    I’m really glad this article was written, because even though I’m a lakers fan I agree with Cuban completely. The number of rings that players have is such an overused argument for greatness. I think we need to define when comparing players which is more important: the level of play they achieved or how long they were great. For example, Bill Russell may have more rings than Kobe but I would argue that Kobe was greater because he reached a peak level of play that was higher than Bill Russell at his peak. .

    • dirtydavis - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:49 AM

      Nah, Russel still better.

  18. dirtydavis - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    Mark Cuban is a pretty dope owner

  19. hoops45 - Dec 25, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    This is why I believe the GOAT of BBall is Hakeem Olajuwon. Simple question: could MJ win a championship w/out Pippen? I say no. Olajuwon took unproven and past their prime players in the heat of battle and got two rings. MJ always needed an elite side-kick.

  20. ozcarg - Dec 25, 2012 at 1:00 PM
  21. brianjoates - Dec 25, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Rings are important for a players career, but impact on the game during their time in the league is more important.

  22. davidcl77 - Dec 26, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Well, his team certainly won’t win another ring anytime soon since he allowed his team to be defunct. Loud mouthed jerk all over television running his mouth. He should do Dirk a favor and sell the team so they can get a real owner in there that cares more about his team than being a celebrity.

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