When one team wins, another loses. If the Celtics win the championship, the Lakers cannot. Sports at the team level, within the context of a single season, is more or less a zero-sum game. But ranking the quality and fame of players is more multi-dimensional and thus it is more positive-sum. Maybe the advent of LeBron James diminishes the luster of Tim Duncan (or maybe it doesn’t), but the total amount of fame produced still goes up because of LeBron and his efforts.
Players who maximize team wins are investing more resources into the zero-sum game. (In fact team players in small markets with few fans are especially destructive of human welfare and it is those players who should be most encouraged to become ball hogs.) Players who pursue individual glory — even if at the expense of the team — are investing more resources into the positive-sum game and thus they are doing more to benefit society.
So why is it again that we glorify the team players?