Standouts, teams need each other to succeed

By Allyson Kloster

Every team needs a star, but a star desperately needs a team, too.

After the Bulls won the NBA Championship in 1992, I became my father’s show pony. At countless family parties, I remember trotting up to people to tell them what he taught me.

“Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, John Paxson, Bill Cartwright and Horace Grant!” I proudly recited.

Those were the days. Not only were the Bulls amazing, but my five-year-old brain absorbed all sorts of useless basketball trivia.

But did the Bulls’ starting lineup classify as useless?

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Not to me.

To this day, I can recall all their names (it took me a while to remember Grant), not just Mr. Jordan’s. Although Jordan was clearly the leader of the team, I’m glad my father had me memorize the names of everyone else. After all, no matter how talented Jordan was, he couldn’t win a game single handedly.

Most Bulls fans – and most fans in general – don’t need to be reminded of the, “There’s no ‘I’ in team” mantra. For the most part, we realize one player cannot solely determine the success or failure of a team.

But if Jordan had played for the Trail Blazers, would there have been reason for me to memorize the starting five? Sure, the Bulls certainly had enough talent to win a championship or two. But six? Without MJ, I doubt it.

This begs the question: Who is more responsible for a team’s success, the team or the standout? Is one more important than the other?

If Jordan was a Trail Blazer, I doubt he’d have brought them to a championship, yet alone six.

Still, every team, no matter how big or small, needs a star or two. And every star needs a solid team in order to help turn it into someone great. In other words, stars and teams need each other if they want to become the best at their sport.

But what about teams that don’t have stars? Is there any way for them to succeed?

If the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays are any proof, the answer is yes. In this year’s playoffs, they lasted longer than the Dodgers did. Even Manny Ramirez, Mr. Clutch himself, couldn’t keep his team afloat. Yet, the Devil Rays, a team of nobodies, are in the World Series.

However, within the Rays’ roster, stars have emerged. Although Evan Longoria is not by any means a household name yet (he would be if one letter was subtracted from his first name), he’s become quite popular in the Bay.

Longoria is proof that on a team without a top-biller, someone always steps up his game to fill the leadership role.

Since losing Rashard Mendenhall and J Leman, a few Illini have stepped up their performances. With the Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn led offense and Brit Miller’s leadership on defense, fans are starting to believe Rashard Mendenhall was not the only reason the team played in the Rose Bowl. If he was, we would have returned from Pasadena victorious, since Mendenhall was arguably the only Illini to have a decent game.

Still, without the help of the offensive line, Juice wouldn’t have been able to tally five-billion yards against Michigan. Although they might not be as easily recognizable as Juice, they are as equally valued. Every player has a role to play, though not all of them can be stars.

But the star needs a good team in order to have credibility. Without the Rose Bowl, Mendenhall would not have been taken as seriously come NFL draft time. Without the World Series, Longoria might miss his chance at becoming a star.

And without several NBA Championships, Horace Grant’s name probably wouldn’t have been etched into my cerebral cortex. That’d be a bummer, since I’d have missed my chance at becoming a show pony.

After all, what’s so special about a little kid who only knew the name of a superstar?

Allyson Kloster is a senior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected].