Merriam-Webster defines the term 'great' as something: remarkable in magnitude, degree or effectiveness. This year, and even just this week the world has been great in many ways, but what exactly defines this greatness?
Is it an unprecedented 12-0 start to the NBA playoffs with 3 straight four game sweeps, the last three MVPs of the league and the best record ever over the same time span? It could also be defined as a man destined to catching the ghost he’s chasing, who has appeared in the sport's championship round in presumably seven straight seasons — a feat only amassed by Bill Russell and the Celtics of the Boston era. But if greatness is measured in volume, Russell is the greatest of all-time 11 times over.
Another Boston great was proclaimed (perhaps again) the greatest in his league for surpassing his predecessors, and orchestrating the comeback of a lifetime in Super Bowl LI. The two most dominant professional sports in the U.S. have had the same recurring stars and storylines for the majority of the decade, but, coincidentally, so do its collegiate counterparts.
In similar fashions, both the women's basketball team at UCONN and football team at Bama, respectively, were defeated and knocked off the mountaintop this year — for now. The current state of sports though includes great feats in both team and individual contests, too.
As it stands, Floyd Mayweather remains perfect and could potentially be 50-0 in boxing by the end of this calendar year. Not even pregnancy could stop Serena Williams from becoming the #1 female athlete today. She has been carrying a baby while simultaneously carrying the sport on her back.
So what is greatness?
In sports, does it mean championships and/or wins? Longevity or impact? Many who have transcended the league or the game, à la Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali, stand alone in this debate of the greatest. But even the title in and of itself is subjective.
Just last week, the University of Maryland (UMD) Valedictorian dropped out of school in stunning manner after semesters of academic greatness, and quite literally, perfection. Yet he stated in his viral letter to mom and dad that he didn't need a piece of paper to ensure his worth. This worth is measured by one’s experiences, and receiving a diploma would hinder him from following his ‘dream’ of becoming a ‘self-made’ entrepreneur.
Tragedy also struck those affiliated with the college park campus again when Bowie State Bulldog Richard Collins III was murdered by a UMD student, who killed the black man destined for greatness. What greater feat is there to protect and serve our country? The budding second lieutenant, who would have graduated today, wanted to be a general in the U.S. Army and was viciously murdered by a racist.
Other attacks led to great suffering and tragedy this week. On Monday night at an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester, 22 victims and counting have been pronounced dead — gone too soon. The greatest mass terrorist killing in Britain since 2005.
Therefore being ‘great,’ as it is defined in present day, holds weight and clearly expands beyond just debate in sport. It shouldn’t be used to solely measure the worth of an athlete or entertainer because that is too narrow a definition for a word used in a range of contexts. It can literally describe life and its constant ebb and flow, both the highs and the lows.
Being great or #1 could have numerous implications, and our world has been hit with the notion of greatness a little too often in the last week — the good side, the bad and the terrorizing ugly. Our President professes to make America ‘great again’ one day — like it was before, as if there weren’t terrorist attacks and racist attacks back then like there are today.
It will not only be a happy day if this country could reach the modern version of greatness we hope to see, but also across all countries in this world. We need to see a great restoration in Manchester, in Maryland and in each nation far away and in between.
Let us all be great in everything that we do, and choose love instead of hate in its greatest magnitude because this debate is truly undefeated.