It wasn’t long ago that David West was a two-time All-Star and a cornerstone for the then New Orleans Hornets alongside Chris Paul. He moved on to a stable starting role with the Indiana Pacers but never had that playoff run he had hoped for. That all changed on June 12th as he helped out the Golden State Warriors win their second title in three years.
Here is the backstory with West. Two years ago as a free agent he was offered a long-term contract to stay with the Indiana Pacers for a large sum of money but instead went for a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs. After a failed attempt to win a championship West saw another opportunity with Golden State and became a serviceable role player this past season.
David West is just a more recent example of what players have done for many years….Ring Chase.
For those that do no know, Ring Chase is pretty much what it says. Players see perfect opportunities to join teams to strictly win a championship. Often times you really see veteran players towards the tail ends of their respected careers.
Outside of David West, there have been many players who have successfully chased down that NBA ring. On the other side, there have been players who have unsuccessfully Ring Chased.
Let’s look at a few sacrifices when it comes to “Ring Chasing”:
- Playing time: Like I stated earlier, most of these guys will be at the end of their careers so they’ll be looked at to play a few minutes a night depending on how much they have left in the tank.
- Not much $$$: A lot of times, veterans that join championship caliber teams will not be offered the same contract as opposed to a lower tier team. I keep using West as the main example (don’t worry we will have some others mentioned later on) on this but let’s look at what he did. For two years he signed lower paying contracts to go after a ring and it paid off. Had he not won it this year, he might have regretted not going after that contract with an extra few million.
- Coming up short: In 2003 for example, Karl Malone and Gary Payton signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and teamed up with Shaq and Kobe in hopes to with their first championship. We all know how that turned out as the 2004 Detroit Pistons dominated the Lakers, making the ring chase unsuccessful. While Payton was able to win a few years later in Miami, Malone retired after the season without every winning a championship. It is hard to win at the NBA level and it must be a cruddy feeling knowing that you were only a few games (even seconds) away from bringing home the gold.
- Heavy criticism: In my opinion, I do not mind ring chasing. I did not care that veterans like Chris Bosh, Mike Miller and Shane Battier, for example, were lining up to join LeBron on the Heat and I certainly will not care that players do it this summer and beyond. We have seen media and fans often criticize players for following this but isn’t winning a championship the ultimate goal?
Now for the reward, it is simple. You are an NBA Champion. It can often cement your status as a Hall of Famer or even save your legacy in the NBA. What if Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen never joined Boston with Paul Pierce? Would they have won at one point? Would we look at their respective careers differently?
Say if they never won, we would have guys like KG that make the list of players that never won it all.
Going back to the legacy thing, sometimes players with impressive backgrounds need a ring to add to their NBA resume. Ron Artest (or Metta World Peace) was a headcase and was on many losing teams in his career. He joined a list of veteran players signing with the Lakers in hopes to win a ring and was able to accomplish that in 2010.
Peja Stojaković is another example. Stojaković was a three point threat and was dominant in his early years with the Sacramento Kings but was unable to lead his team past the second round. He joined the Dallas Mavericks in the middle of the 2010-2011 NBA season and was able to help Dallas upset the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.
How about Alonzo Mourning? Mourning was one of the top big men in the 1990’s but was never able to lead his teams to a championship. After surviving a life-threatening kidney disease, Mourning joined the Heat in 2005, teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Shaq. Even after the disease and his age, Mourning was able to contribute to the Heat on the defensive end. He was one of the main role players that helped the Heat win it all in 2006.
Obviously, there are many other ring chasers I missed here but these are the first few that popped into my head.
Ring Chasing is a risk and players like Karl Malone, Charles Barkley in 1996 with Houston, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in 2012 with the Lakers can attest that ring chasing sometimes does not have the same luck for everyone
You might not make or play as much as you hoped, but if it all works out, it can make aging veterans career like Mourning, Gary Payton and Clyde Drexler back in 1995 with the Houston Rockets feel accomplished that they won on the highest level.
So, do I have a problem with Ring Chasing? Honestly no. I believe that NBA players have the right to choose where they want to go and if joining a super power team for a chance at championship gold, who am I to judge them on that choice?