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The Final Score: A fan asks about James Yap and Mark Caguioa

August 3, 2012 7:33am


Are comparisons necessary? Can’t we just let James Yap be James Yap? Can’t we just allow Mark Caguioa to be Mark Caguioa? We can let them be. We choose not to. Like taller buildings that jut out from a skyline, they grab attention even if they don’t ask for it. They’re better than most. As such, they set the standards for everyone else. Even more intensely, they set the standards for each other.

To be compared with talented individuals is to belong. It matters less who wins in arguments between fans. What matters more is inclusion among the PBA elite. Membership in the club will always be scrutinized by way of juxtaposition. One needs to measure up, always.

If I’m James, I want to be compared with Mark. Caguioa is charismatic in ways hard to explain to people who don’t watch the games. He won’t dunk. He won’t dance. But he will score, mostly by sheer will. Fans love his stubbornness. The most admirable winners, anyway, are the most stubborn ones. He refuses to completely surrender to physics and anatomy. He’s put in over a decade of hard work in the PBA yet he’s still competing at the highest level. He’s the curmudgeon with the perpetual license to thrill. 32 years old, finally a league Most Valuable Player, and he’s still showing rising stars how it’s done

If I’m Mark, I want to be compared with James. James is effervescent. You don’t need to know what product B-MEG is to know that this is true. He is more crafty than forceful. He scores with elegance even in the most pressing situations. At least, he makes it appear that way. While Caguioa deals mostly with the pressure to win basketball games (the pressure on Caguioa to win, however, is more than most people can bear), Yap has learned to succeed while burdened by inquisition from sports media and beyond. Two MVPs, and multiple championships go along with a life attached to controversy. Despite the constant challenge, James remains one of the best.

Madalas na pinaghahambing ang dalawang bagay na magkasinggaling. To compare two things of contrasting values is possible. But to compare two things of equal value leads to exciting possibilities. These are the arguments we invest in. We become emotional. It becomes personal. Jaworski vs Fernandez. Magic vs Bird. Kobe vs LeBron. Gary David vs Mark & James. Your memories of Michael Jordan vs my memories of Michael Jordan.

We can always let them be. Let James be measured against James. Let Mark be measured against Mark. But as athletes of the highest order, they must compete. Someone must prevail. As observers, we’re free to choose one, or the other, or both. We see the towers looking over the city. They’re impossible to ignore. The comparison between James Yap and Mark Caguioa is not necessary. But it is important. We don’t compare good with great. That is not the fruitful discourse. We compare great with great. That leads to the worthy debate. - AMD, GMA News
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