When Warriors quarterback, Steph Curry, won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player plum in 2016, he became the first player to do so unanimously. In seventy-four completed NBA seasons, no other man has pulled off the feat. Shaq O’Neal came terribly close in 2000, falling one vote shy of the honour. Reporter Fred Hickman famously cast his vote for Allen Iverson. LeBron James pulled a Shaq, likewise coming up one shy in 2013 while with the Heat. These instances reveal that there will always be dissent. Mind you, as I’ll detail later, the occurrence is far from just sports-centric.
King of the court
I remember once being captivated by NBA Live. I would play it on the PC after class, immersed in the action. The New York Knicks were my favourite squad. At the time, sniper Allan Houston and electric Latrell Sprewell spearheaded the team. The video game was different then. These days, it’s commonplace to score 130 points in 10-minute quarters. Before, I was putting up the century mark in a full game. There was also no zone defence then. Early on, I didn’t always win. As a result, I sometimes altered the rules for more free-flowing gameplay. For instance, I allowed hand-checking to come up with steals. I also recall scrapping the three-seconds rule. The lane became more congested but also offered more scoring opportunities.
Once, I was mobilising the Sacramento Kings. I kept feeding it to Vlade Divac down low, who in turn kept swishing.
‘Divac is red-hot shooting…ONE HUNDRED percent.’
I almost chuckled when hearing that from the announcer. Before, I had some dudes with the hot hand. But never in months of NBA Live did I hear a perfect shooting night. I recall Divac knocking down a three pointer as we hit the century mark. The guy sitting beside me shook his head. Vlade isn’t the guy you expect to drill 3s. Divac didn’t end up with an immaculate percentage, as he missed a shot or two. However, I ended up thrashing the opponent by forty points.
A few years later, I played as Kevin Garnett on a one-on-one. My opponent was the late Mamba. Though I did not change the other rules, I decided to make it a winner’s out format. Kobe stood no chance as the taller Garnett overpowered him in the post and swished stare-down jumpers in the perimeter. 11-0 KG. My friend, Harry, was very impressed. He even shared my whitewash with his pal, Rikard.
Looking further back, have you heard of Nadia Comaneci? The Romanian is one of the most celebrated gymnasts ever. She competed in Montreal in the 1976 Olympics at age fourteen. There, she became the first gymnast to garner a perfect score. She would get a further six perfect 10s in that games. She would win three gold medals in ’76. At the height of her fame, she was featured on the cover of Time magazine, with the caption ‘She’s Perfect.’ She again contested the 1980 edition in Moscow, where she received another two perfect 10s. Like other sports and media, the judges have to concur on supplying the highest score. If only one appraiser disagrees, then it’s goodbye, consensus.
As I said, this tradition oversteps the hardwood. The media sphere is another prime locus. Consider the movie Paddington 2. For a few years, the picture was certified fresh on review aggregate site, Rotten Tomatoes. It held a perfect score of one hundred percent. I recall asking my ex-neighbour if he had seen at the cinema a film with an unblemished rating.
‘Yes, the other year I saw Paddington 2.’
Well, one year later and that no longer applies. At least one reviewer had a dissenting opinion, finding flaws at a clearly flawless flick. Whether the review was warranted or not, the production no longer boasts an immaculate score.
A similar thing happened with The Queen’s Gambit (2020). For a while, the miniseries held steady at full marks. With an exciting plot centring on a chess prodigy, it clearly had universal appeal. However, it could not sustain its excellent score. More appropriately, it couldn’t please all the critics. While Paddington 2 wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, Gambit garnered eleven Primetime Emmys and two Globes. The series set the bar for streaming productions. Gambit currently rates at ninety-six percent.
The Michael Jordan doco, The Last Dance, is another interesting study. See also: my post, The Last Dance (2020) reviewed. The doco takes a scattershot approach in the career of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). It travels back and forth between the eighties, nineties, and even the present. It presents the legend of Mike to the younger generation, his joys, trials, and tribulations. Jordan is without a doubt the greatest winner in the modern NBA. Dance was at a hundred percent for a few weeks. The series now rates at ninety seven percent.
Speaking of a hundred, I recall seeing Ralph Breaks the Internet with the same ex-neighbour. There was a scene there where a monster was ’scanning for insecurities.’ While scouting, he saw Ralph walking round. The latter was heartbroken after his BFF left him. The sign read, ‘100% insecure.’ We joined the audience in chuckling.
Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter’s mortal enemy, puts it best. ‘Greatness inspires envy. Envy endangers spite. Spite spawns lies.’ The augustness of a flawless score is just too much for some people. Green with envy, they endeavour to taint others’ greatness. Often, as with Paddington 2, they contribute though their justification is pointless. History is littered with scorned carcasses whose sole purpose were to bring others down. Remember, it’s far easier to topple a stack of cards than to assemble one.
In case you’re wondering, Steph Curry was very deserving of the nod. He led the league in scoring at 30.1 points per outing. He was also the leading pickpocket at 2.14 per. His free throw percentage that year was likewise second to none. He became the initial dribbler to lead the league in scoring while being part of the 50-40-90 club. The latter is the ultimate circle for shooters in the association. One has to convert fifty percent from the field, forty percent from trifecta, and ninety percent from the foul line: all while hitting the minimums for each category during the regular season. Kevin Durant could’ve been the first to accomplish this feat in 2013 but his mentor, Melo Anthony, wrestled the scoring title away from him.
This year, Curry has left no doubt that he is the league’s purest shooter ever. In December, he became the association’s all time leader in regular season threes, in addition to the playoff record that he already holds. At this rate, he could probably raise the record to 4,000 made triples. The figure is likely one that would stand for ages, a testament to Curry’s accuracy and degree. This is lofty praise for a player who once had to battle through injuries. As a result of this, he was paid less than Jeremy Lin during his historic year, something that would change soon thereafter.
I’ve presented a number of scenarios where getting a perfect score would seem fabulous. However, we must note that norming these numbers isn’t always for the best. I recall my teacher, Mrs. Guyabano, pointing to the Dead Sea as Exhibit A. Apparently, the lake is like a vortex or a ball hog. It doesn’t want to play ball. As a result of this, the sea has become so salty that you could float even if you can’t swim. The moral of the story: we should learn to share. Any good relationship is symbiotic; we must learn to give and take. Ultimately, we see hope in a hundred. It has connotations of perfection, reliability, and wholeness. It is not given loosely; it must be earned. There is no greater guarantee than 100 percent. You just need to use it appropriately.