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Nobody's Perfect

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Writing an entry like the one I did yesterday isn't typically my favorite thing to do, especially when it's about a player on our own team. For one thing, as dmgeist recently reminded us, you never know who (or whose family or friends) might stumble onto it and get their feelings hurt. Ever since I learned how many people read this site, I've tried to make sure I didn't write anything that I wouldn't be willing to say to a person face-to-face. Sometimes even that isn't the best criteria, but there has to be a line somewhere, otherwise this place would become nothing more than a bleating homer spouting fluff with no sense of objectivity at all. For every three of those "constructive criticism" entries I start to write, probably only one ends up actually getting posted. More often than not, I go back and read what I wrote, and decide that it's better off left unsaid. Yesterday's made the cut because it just happens to be a particularly large hot button for me. I absolutely despise hearing players brag about themselves, and I truly believe that Amare would be an even greater player and person than he already is if he learned the subtle art of diplomacy. So think of yesterday's entry like a parent disciplining a child--you hate it, but sometimes it's just got to be done.

While we're on the topic of pointing out the bad with the good, this seems as good a time as any to bring up something I've been meaning to say ever since some folks in the media first proclaimed that Steve Nash wasn't worthy of winning the MVP because of his deficiencies on defense: Nobody's perfect. Whether it's Nash's defense, Amare's mouth, or Shaq's inexplicable failure to master the simple free throw in fifteen years of playing in the NBA, every player has some kind of weakness (some more harmful than others) that keeps absolute perfection forever at bay. It's like Superman and his kryptonite. There seems to be something genetically wired in that says "you can get every other part of your game right except for this one thing". Personally, I think that's a good thing. It provides a modicum of humility, as well as a perpetual source of motivation for trying to improve--as long as the player recognizes that weakness, of course (I'm not sure all of them do).

Here is a list of some current players who have risen above their kryptonite to lead their teams like Supermen. Since this topic was originally inspired by the MVP discussion (with a boost from a comment on another site), I'll limit my list to Nash and his main competitors for the MVP over the past three seasons. Listed in alphabetical order are:

Kobe Bryant:

  • Superman traits: Widely recognized as the best individual player in the league (as much as Suns fans hate to hear it). Absolute money in the clutch, and holds the second-highest NBA single game scoring record of all time. Can pretty much score on anybody.
  • Kryptonite: Seems to forget that scoring 50 points a game is meaningless if your team loses. Can't seem to find a balance between getting his teammates involved and trying to do everything himself. Also, his comments to the media (particularly about teammates after losses during the playoffs), make Amare look like a diplomatic whiz.
Tim Duncan:
  • Superman traits: He isn't perfect, but he may be about as close as it gets when overall game is considered (again, we Suns fans don't like to hear that). He's also about as close as it gets to being ego-less, much like our own MVP superstar.
  • Kryptonite: His free throw percentage is nowhere near as atrocious as Shaq's, but at under 70% for his career, that part of his game could clearly use some improvement. Plus he's apparently never learned to recognize when he's committed a foul, judging by his reactions when being called for one.
LeBron James:
  • Superman traits: Has lived up to all the hype with which he entered the league far better than many of us ever thought he would. Can be an absolute joy to watch on offense. Led his team to the Finals (although one has to wonder if they would have gotten out of the first round had they been in the western conference instead of the east). Walks the line between shooting and sharing quite admirably for a guy of his age and scoring ability.
  • Kryptonite: Not exactly a great defensive stopper, and has been known to make bad decisions in the clutch. Also, given that he led all forwards in free throw attempts last season, he could help his team a lot by improving on his 68.9 percentage.
Steve Nash:
  • Superman traits: About the closest thing possible to the perfect point guard on the offensive end of the floor. Equally deadly at both passing and shooting (including 3-point range), and don't bother fouling him either since he's currently the third best free throw shooter ever in the NBA. Seems to raise the level of play from everyone who steps on the floor with him, and is a terrific leader both on and off the court. The very definition of "makes teammates better".
  • Kryptonite: While he's been known to make some amazing defensive plays in crunch time (see Suns @ Dallas, 03/14/07), overall he tends to struggle on that end of the floor, especially when defending the 3-pointer (see Bruce Bowen's daggers during the 2007 playoffs).
Dirk Nowitzki:
  • Superman traits: Can make shots from anywhere on the floor and is utterly unguardable at times.
  • Kryptonite: Struggles to maintain composure in the clutch or when facing teams coached by Don Nelson.
Shaquille O'Neal:
  • Superman traits: In his prime, he absolutely owned the paint, and can still make a convincing case for Most Immovable Object when properly motivated.
  • Kryptonite: Has never seemed to place a high priority on conditioning, slacks off during the regular season, and his free throw shooting is downright scary.
Dwyane Wade:
  • Superman traits: Gets it done on both ends of the floor, and has already led his team to a championship.
  • Kryptonite: His three-point shot is even scarier than Shaq's free throws, which isn't a good thing for a guard.

Poll

Which player is closest to perfection?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Kobe Bryant
    (13 votes)
  • 23%
    Tim Duncan
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    LeBron James
    (1 vote)
  • 39%
    Steve Nash
    (25 votes)
  • 12%
    Dirk Nowitzki
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Shaquille O'Neal
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Dwyane Wade
    (0 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now