Have you noticed that whenever hoops fans compare two superstar players to each other, they wind up talking about the players’ teammates and championship rings without talking about the actual players? I’ve had the conversation so frequently that I can almost predict the back-and-forth.

For example, consider the debate about who is better between Kobe and LeBron. That debate has become so predictable that I can have it with myself:

Self: LeBron is better. He’s bigger, faster, and stronger. He’s a better rebounder and a better passer.
Self: No, Kobe is better. He’s a more versatile scorer, he’s clutch, and he has four rings.
Self: He only has four rings because he played with Shaq for three of those seasons, and had a stacked team for the fourth.
Self: Actually, he proved himself to be incredibly clutch even when he had Shaq. And last year he was the clear team leader. It’s true that his teammates are good, but LeBron’s aren’t bad, either. Mo Williams was an All-Star last year, and the Cavs were the best defensive team in the league.
Self: Are you being serious? You think the Cavs’ supporting cast is better than the Lakers’?

At this point, I’m 90 seconds into a conversation with myself about Kobe and LeBron, and I’m not even talking about Kobe or LeBron.

This is a problem for a few reasons. One of those reasons is that I shouldn’t talk to myself for 90 seconds. Or any seconds, actually. But I’ll look beyond that for now, and focus on the basketball-related component of the problem…

The conventional way of measuring the merits of one player versus another is too limited. Over the next few days / weeks, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about a better way to measure excellence.

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