5. Recency Bias
To bring this piece full circle, let's get back to Shaq.
Though I appreciate his tremendous fondness for Steph Curry, I did find it odd that he'd make a GOAT comment after a regular-season game in December. By the looks of it, the Big Aristotle was swayed by the last piece of footage he'd seen. I agree with Shaq that Curry should be in the GOAT conversation, but I'd also have to diagnose his comment as a case of recency bias.
All NBA fans - from the grizzled die-hards to the wide-eyed newcomers - are susceptible to the power of recency. This is magnified by sports media's penchant for sensational headlines; how many times have you watched pundits debate "Is so and so the greatest this and that" on ESPN just hours after an impressive outing from a player, team, or coach?
As a hoops junkie, I'm all for celebrating spectacular performances on the hardcourt. These are moments in time that no basketball lover should ever take for granted. But we do need to temper our excitement with perspective. Do we cast aside record books and decades of rich history after seeing the latest 50-point explosion? Are we allowed to make the logical leap of heaping superlatives upon a player who isn't quite close to writing the final chapter of his career?
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Anthony Davis will all be giving us a flurry of highlights for years to come. But I don't think it's any disrespect to these outstanding players if we pump the brakes on bringing them up in the GOAT conversation. Especially if our motivation for doing so - whether we admit it or not - was their latest YouTube-worthy clip.