Last night, Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup. Seeing the pure joy on the faces of Ovechkin and his teammates is part of what makes sports so awesome, and it was a thrill to watch for all the players, coaches, and the D.C. fans—but most sports fans probably feel good for Ovechkin in particular. He has been one of the game’s best players for over a decade, but senseless people made it as though he and the Capitals would never win a title, as if the franchise is a joke and winning a championship is easy.
But they can’t knock Ovi and the Caps any longer, as the championship puts a big stamp on what is an amazing career regardless. Sticking with the three other main American sports, these three likely future Hall of Famers are also looking for a championship ring to add to their already-great resumes.
While for whatever reason Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been as outstanding in the postseason as he is during the regular season, there isn’t any question he’s one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. Thankfully, despite the way the media and many fans can be, Kershaw does mostly get recognition as a legendary pitcher. A World Series title would remove any remaining doubt.
If Kershaw never wins a championship, it would be the only thing he didn’t do in his career. In the regular season, he’s accomplished about as much as any pitcher, and his 2.37 career ERA is not even approached by other starting pitchers of recent decades—but he just needs that ring on his finger. More injury issues this season are obviously a concern, but hopefully we see Kershaw on the mound as his usual self later this season and beyond.
His attitude and demeanor can easily rub a lot of people (including his teammates) the wrong way, but Chris Paul is selfless with the basketball in his hands. Paul’s 9.8 assists per game for his career is third all-time in NBA history, behind Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and John Stockton, so he can dish the rock as well as anyone. CP3 has been with the Hornets, Clippers, and now Rockets, and he’s been made a running joke for never getting to the Conference Finals until this year.
Unfortunately for Paul, he and the Rockets might be in the Finals and on the cusp of a title if not for his injury at the end of Game 5 in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. The good news is that Paul and the Rockets appear to be very close to a championship.
With Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger, the 2004 quarterback draft class is one of the best ever. Manning and Roethlisberger each have two Super Bowl wins, but Rivers still has yet to make an appearance in the Big Game. Rivers has had a ton of statistical success and is arguably the best quarterback of the three; he just hasn’t been able to win a championship with the Chargers.
Currently, Rivers is seen as this generation’s Dan Marino. Both Rivers and Marino have a quick release and are super-accurate with the football—but without a championship. Marino is probably a top-five quarterback in NFL history; but if Rivers can do something Marino didn’t do and win a title, he might get up there in that all-time discussion. The Chargers have a talented team, and it’d nice to see the sometimes-crazy Rivers hoist the Lombardi Trophy like the exuberant Ovechkin hoisted the Stanley Cup.