Re: State of the NBA - today vs yesteryear
posted at 8/21/2013 7:58 PM EDT
I have witnessed 5 distinct (IMO) phases of the NBA.
1. Yes. I watched Bill Russell, Sam Jones, KC Jones, Satch Sanders, etc., at the old Boston Garden. Russell vs Chamberlain. Better yet, Willis Reed, Clyde Frasier, Bill Bradley, Dave Debussuer, Earl the Pearl, Cassy Russell, etc. I would play for hours pretending I was them. Mimicking their shooting style. I was awed and mesmerized. But I didn't really understand the game.
2. Then there was a period of transition. A DMZ haze of boring basketball without endearing stars, other than Dr. J. The ABA and Marvin Barnes doing coke on the Celtics bench. Disco. I was more into girls anyway. I didn't care about the NBA.
3. Then Bird and Magic stepped on the court and instantly revived the NBA. Their personal dynamics, contrast, and competitiveness transformed the NBA into an exciting International sport. This was like the Russell days. Real tough basketball by athletes that loved the game. Larry Bird proclaiming that he would play for nothing when his contract came up for renewal. he just wanted to play.
4. Then we regressed into a prolonged period tatoos, selfishness and bad off-court behavior that followed Allen Iverson into the sport. Hip Hop music and WWE like entertainment to all star weekend. Players became selfish on and off the court. Had their own coaches fired. Big money and big egos and big cry babies and big demands, like Sprewell and his $14M that wouldn't even buy his kids a new pair of shoes.
5. then today. Selfish players like, Gilbert Arenas, Stephen Jackson, Monte Ellis, J.R. Smith and yes Josh Smith (Kobe is in a league all by himself). are not nearly as coveted as they were in the past. Teams are beginning to pass on selfish stars and build rosters based on on the team concept of the Magic Bird years of the mid 80s again. A new breed of superstars, like Chris Paul, Lebron James, Durant, The Pacers, understand that to win, you need team trust, participation, leadership and chemistry. (stars without chemistry is a losing proposition - right L.A.?)
I think we're early in this last phase, and of course there are many exceptions in my defined phases, but I see the league coming around again - for the better - and I for one am as excited as ever to see what type of team Stevens and Danny will put together over the next few years. I'll be buying an NBA pass for the first time just to watch, witness and analyze this team develop.