Plenty of changes in hockey since our last best player poll. Though perennial stars like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Jonathan Toews are still definitely among the top vote-getters, younger players like Jamie Benn and John Tavares have worked their way into the conversation.
People are saying it was one of the greatest NBA play-offs games ever but I think you also have to say it was also one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history, especially when you add it to his game five and six performances.
“He” is Lebron James and if he wasn’t already the Best Player in the World, after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship, he has now officially entered Michael Jordan territory, Mr. Clutch, Mr. Best Player Ever.
Our concern with Lebron was never about his unprecedented package of size, speed, power, skill. Nor was it his perceived underachievement compared to other basketball greats. Our issue was – could Lebron do what the greats had done and lead his team to victory when everything was on the line? Could the man who looked like superman, actually do a superman?
Well, he’s finally done it and we should all acknowledge that despite the unprecedented season Steph Curry had with Golden State, Lebron emphatically one-upped him with a play-off championship and showed just who is actually the Best (basketball) Player in the World.
The question now though is if Lebron is in Jordan territory, how close is he to becoming the Best Player Ever?
Following the Pittsburgh Penguin’s 2016 Stanley Cup win, the NHL.com’s Dan Rosen nicely captured the arc of Sidney Crosby’s challenging and ultimately vindicating season. Rosen positioned the piece around the doubt that surrounded Sid:
“Considering how last season ended, the questions regarding Crosby’s greatness and his stature as the best player in the world was real. Dare we ask, was he still the best in the world?”
We here never asked that question. And never did we doubt Sid’s greatness. Even when Ovechkin and his Caps were early favourites to win the cup. For us the issue was always the team. If there was doubt – it was about the team. Sid was always Sid, playing his superb all-round game and impatiently waiting for management to get it’s act together and fix a ragged looking team picture. That’s a story onto itself but to put it simply, General Manager Jimmy Rutherford’s addition of an entire third line (HBK), which ludicrously included an eight million dollar per year right winger (Phil Kessel), unexpectedly gave Crosby the supporting cast he’d needed for years. As a result he was able to show just how great he was and how able he was to lead the Penguins to another cup.
Rosen’s piece ends with a quote from Crosby’s gritty and ever-loyal winger, Patric Hornqvist: “He’s the best player in the world.”
Not “is once again”.
Always was. Never skipped a beat – even while his team resembled a collection of spare parts.
With a second Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy as the play-offs MVP, Sidney Crosby has silenced the doubters.