Commentary

Who needs title most: Dirk or LeBron?

Debating which superstar most needs to win a championship this season

Originally Published: May 21, 2011
By Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine
Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron JamesGetty ImagesBoth Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James are searching for their first title.

The only thing Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard like to do more than report on the NBA is argue about the NBA. So we decided to combine those two skills for Insider's weekly One-on-One series, in which they'll debate the hottest topics in the association.

Question: Of players still remaining, who needs a title more this season, LeBron James or Dirk Nowitzki?

BUCHER: No matter which team wins the title this year, one of several prominent players is going to walk away with his first championship ring. And at the beginning of the season, I might've said no one needs to be that player more than LeBron James. But that's because I never imagined the Dallas Mavericks or Dirk Nowitzki would even be in the conversation. Now that they are, I'm going to say getting a ring this year would mean more and do more for Dirk than anybody who still has a shot at it.


BROUSSARD: A title will definitely benefit Dirk's legacy, and I guess you could say that since his window for a ring is smaller than LeBron's, he needs it more. But having or not having a ring doesn't change Dirk's all-time standing the way it will LeBron's. With a ring, LeBron can join the elite of the elite. Dirk -- unless he does the unrealistic and wins three of the next four titles -- will never join that group. He's elite, Hall of Fame and all that, but a ring won't put him in that class of immortals like it can for LeBron.

Furthermore, LeBron now has what he never had -- a second star. If he doesn't win it now, there's no excuse, especially since the old guard of champions -- the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs -- are gone. If a member of the new guard (Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant) beats him to a ring, it'll be a stain on his legacy that won't be easily removed.


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Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer