There's an old saying about opinions that goes a little like this, "opinions are like favorite stories about Sam Perkins — everybody has one." And just like how people always want to tell you about the time they took a picture with Big Smooth, they're also more than willing to share their opinions. Matt Guokas, former NBA player and current Orlando Magic commentator, is no different.
And boy does he have some opinions. Most notably, he thinks Dwight Howard(notes) is a better defender than Bill Russell. Yes, that Bill Russell, the one that's widely considered the best defensive center of all-time. That's who Matt Guokas thinks is a worse defender than Dwight Howard.
After hearing the proclamation, the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi gave Guokas a buzz to see if he would maybe want to reconsider.
The other day, I called Guokas and gave him a chance to recant the statement he made about Dwight being better defensively than Russell, but he refused to budge.
He did, however, add an obvious qualifier: "Dwight has not accomplished the things Bill Russell did. Dwight has not been a part of 11 championships in 13 years. That's the big difference. What I was talking about when I made the statement is Dwight's sheer ability and skill as compared to Bill Russell's."
In Guokas' opinion, Howard has more overall athleticism than Russell. He's bigger and stronger. He's better-conditioned. He runs faster and jumps higher.
Well, he's right, I guess. Dwight Howard is certainly in better shape than a player who starred in the 1960's. Those Ed Hardy shirts aren't going to fill themselves out.
But here's the thing — tons of guys are better-conditioned, can run faster, and can jump higher. It's 2010, man. Tyrus Thomas(notes) is all of those things and he can't even decide if he should wear a headband every game.
Then again, Guokas should know. He played against Russell. Heck, he probably even scored on him. And since there's no way that he can score on Dwight Howard now, he must be a better defender. Sounds logical.
Of course, there's no way to really know. 50 years ago, the NBA's stats weren't quite as robust as they are today, and even if they were, the two centers played in different eras. But we do know this — Dwight Howard is without a doubt a better Men's Health cover model. Has Bill Russell ever done that? No. Advantage, Dwight.