When discussing the greatness of a player’s NBA career, the overlooked aspect of it seems to be the longevity. Staying on the top level of play requires a certain level of dedication and individual excellence that very few possess, and it’s an underrated part of one’s NBA resume.
Another thing that not many talk about, and players are very proud of is doing it with various organizations. It’s a result of a narrative switch – from preferably being loyal to one team to now bouncing from one franchise to another. It’s a career path no one has a problem with anymore, as precedents for all scenarios have been set. Take, for instance, KD signing with the Warriors. That one will be hard to top.
Many attribute player empowerment to LeBron James. His move to the Heat was a ground-breaking moment for all NBA players – the ultimate proof that you are in control of your destiny in the league. James endured the hate for it, and it’s now a common practice in the league.
Playing in his 17th year in the NBA, LeBron has been a part of three different organizations and has seen the top with two of them. We are still waiting for him to conquer the league with the Lakers, as his championship window is slowly closing.
Nevertheless, his teams have always been elite in terms of winning. That plus his longevity may be the most impressive thing about LeBron’s career. He’s been able to do it for so long, no matter the jersey he was wearing, inserting himself in an exclusive group of players who were successful with multiple teams.
However, two players top the group of players who won with multiple franchises. Even James is not yet on their level. One of them you’d expect to be there, the other may surprise you. The criterion is recording 200+ wins with three different teams. LeBron still hasn’t done it in LA, but will probably do it if he stays with the Lakers long enough, as he is 125 games shy of joining the two.
The first one to ever do it was Wilt Chamberlain. He’s less of a surprise between the two who have ever done it. Wilt first won 231 with the Warriors over six years of playing there. During his four years in Philadelphia, Chamberlain did it again, winning 203 games during the span. He then got traded to the Lakers, where he continued with his impact on the team’s success. Wilt won 238 games while wearing purple and gold, becoming the first player ever to do it with three different teams.
There was only one player to do it after Wilt, and it’s Jason Kidd. Over seven years playing with the Nets, Kidd recorded 292 wins, which is the most games he won with one team during his career. He got exactly 200 with the Suns, which will prove to be key. Kidd also recorded 271 wins over his eight seasons in Texas, playing on and off with the Mavs. He capped his career off with a championship ring, joining one of the most dominant forces in Wilt as the only two who pulled it off.
LeBron is the only one with a realistic chance of getting there. It speaks to the difficulty of accomplishing what both Wilt and Kidd were able to accomplish. But to me, it’s more of a testimony of how great Kidd really was. Because I expected Wilt to be on the list, Kidd’s name came as a surprise.
I guess I will leave you with that – Kidd deserves more respect than he’s getting. Because no matter how great he was, he seems to be underrated in NBA circles. Stuff like this shows you why it shouldn’t be the case because just being in any conversation with Wilt and LeBron means you’ve left a significant mark in the league.