In 1979, Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:31:56, the fastest time ever recorded for a woman in the Boston Marathon’s history, as well as the third-fastest time ever recorded for a woman in any marathon.
However, history remembers this seemingly remarkable achievement as the biggest fraud in marathon history. Why?
Two Harvard students, John Faulkner and Sola Mahoney, came forward and reported that they saw Ruiz burst out of a crowd of spectators on Commonwealth Avenue, half a mile from the finish. What is more, there was no photographic or video evidence of her at the checkpoints along the way.
In other words, Rosie Ruiz may have crossed the finish line before any other woman in the race, but she took a BIG shortcut do it.
The bigger the shortcut, the more respect a person forfeits.
In 2007, Kevin Garnett ditched the Minnesota Timberwolves to join Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Boston. That very season, they were NBA champions.
Talk about a shortcut; that was the biggest single season turnaround in the history of the NBA!
Now, on July 8, 2010, on his own ESPN infomercial, LeBron James announced he was taking an even bigger shortcut, in hopes of acquiring multiple NBA championships.
I realize that there are plenty of cheats in the world who see nothing wrong with stacking a team — or with athletes doping — or with any other shortcut to win.
But I’m not one of them.
LeBron will certainly get his championships, but he won’t really EARN them.
Not like Michael Jordan earned his.
Or not like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird earned theirs: by facing a worthy nemesis in an epic battle that wrenched from both sides every bit of possible effort, heart, blood, sweat and tears to earn an NBA championship.
LeBron won’t even be a Kobe Bryant: someone who stuck with his team through the bad years, albeit barely, to claw his way back to the top of the mountain.
And for those tempted to cry, “Well Kobe got Pau Gasol to help him win championships…”
I invite you to think before you embarrass yourself with such an idiotic comparison.
First, LeBron saw nothing close to the adversity Kobe went through when he wanted to leave Los Angeles. LeBron was on the winningest team in the NBA for the last two years, and had a trip to the NBA Finals before that!
And second and most importantly, Chris Bosh and Pau Gasol are near statistical twins, with Bosh actually having the edge. And in the 2008 Olympics, Bosh outplayed Gasol head to head.
So Gasol going to Los Angeles to team up with Kobe is pretty much the same as Chris Bosh going to Cleveland to help Lebron.
There is nothing in NBA history that really compares with Dwayne Wade getting both Chris Bosh and LeBron James.
The three of them just decided to take the Rosie Ruiz short cut to championship glory.
That’s LeBron’s choice for sure, but even casual fans know that is not how the truly great icons of the NBA did it.
I will forget my own name before I will forget how Michael Jordan earned his first championship. The world watched with reverent respect as Michael Jordan cradled the Larry O’Brien trophy like a rescued child, unashamedly crying in huge sobs.
There will be no such joy when LeBron holds his first trophy, not for America, and not for him.
LeBron’s championship legacy will forever be tainted with the stamp of Rosie Ruiz: he took the easy way. The short cut.
After all, the biggest challenge the Miami All-Stars face isn’t how on earth do they overcome the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls or Orlando Magic en route to the Finals, but how do they mesh 3 world class players (and 9 other players playing for NBA minimums) so that statistically they all still look good in the process.
Don’t call them the Miami Heat, call them the Miami “Pre-Heat.”
Again, it is his choice, but it is just amazing that a player of this ability chose the Rosie Ruiz shortcut over Michael’s marathon.
No matter how many rings Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade win together, their place in basketball history will always be several notches below Michael, Magic, Larry and Kobe.
“Now, Clevelanders truly see it for themselves: He [Lebron James] was a fan of the [Dallas] Cowboys, the [New York] Yankees – never the [Cleveland] Browns and [Cleveland] Indians. He was a frontrunner, and he just made the most frontrunner move in the history of the NBA. Off to Miami with Riles, D-Wade and Chris Bosh. New York would’ve been hard, and maybe Cleveland would’ve been the hardest. With those state tax laws in Florida, he isn’t taking less money with the Heat. He’s just taking less risk and less burden in his championship chase.”
LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh will be champions, but with an asterisk. By stacking a team, they’ve forfeited their right to be considered among the NBA’s all time greats.
After all, the bigger the shortcut, the more respect a person forfeits.