Looking back over the history of the NBA things have definitely changed. Most changes have been positive for the game, the players and the league. A player today has a salary sizeable greater compared to his counterpart 20 to 30 years ago. Television revenue has skyrocketed and an franchise owner today is wealthy beyond what his forerunner could have imagined. Fan access to live televised basketball is much greater than in previous years. At one time 30 years ago you were only able to watch the NBA on a Thursday or Friday night. The game was often taped. Now we can find live coverage of a multitude games on cable and network stations. The league now has its own station that broadcast games around the clock and daily. The advent and growth of 24/7 cable sports news, featured stories, documentaries and gossip has made the NBA a commercial and popular success.
The game with the dream team of Jordan and Magic helped the game grow internationally. The game of today is so international that every team has at least one or two foreign born players. A player today compared to his predecessor is more athletic, bigger, faster and stronger. So the defense rest. The NBA is “NBA is Fantastic” Why even reflect of the past NBA? Case closed, right. Not so fast. Now the prosecution is ready to present the facts of its case to prove that the NBA of yesteryear was better.
The NBA 20 to 30 years ago featured players whose basketball skills were rooted in grounded in fundamental good basketball. Point guards could dribble a basketball without constantly turning the ball over and palming the ball. The quintessential point guard epitomized by Cousy, Archibald, Lenny Wilkins, Dave Bing, and Maurice Cheeks loved to pass the ball and were the quarterbacks of the offense. The ball actually went around the horn and each player had an opportunity to be engaged in the offensive attack. One on one basketball existed but it was limited to specific segments of the game not like today. Shooting guards of today are pure gunners and often are unable to consistently shoot a decent percentage from tne field. However, they never stop shooting even they have a horrible night from the field. Baseball spreads
Far too many nights we have had to witness Lebron James, Allen Iverson or Kobe Bryant shoot less than 20 % from the field and continue shooting. This was never the case for shooting guards and marksmen Jerry West or Oscar Robinson.
Power forwards today act like small forwards. They never rebound the ball and are always trying to handle the ball as much as a point or shooting guard. What ever happened to the rebounding and inside post-up play that made the “paint” a dangerous and rugged place to frequent. Baseball lines
Now, the worst position and player quality comparison for the NBA is the center position. Today we have 3–4 legitimate centers that actually go under the basket to score, block shots, rebound, and intimidate others. The NBA of the past was a league of dominant big men that enjoyed the rough and tumble action in the paint.
Today a point guard can go into the lane unencumbered and score without being physically touched or challenged. This never happened with Wilt, Russell, Lanier, Moses, Unseld, and a host of other big men that acted like big men and not like “wusses”. If you came into the lane to score you had to be prepared to be hit, bumped and knockdown as you attempt to score. This was called defense something the NBA sacrificed in an effort to speed up the game. Baseball never sacrificed the essence of the game for speed and has remained as our national pastime because of this appreciation of the past. This is the difference between the modern game today and the glory of yesterday. The prosecution rest.
The NBA has traded in the game for Madison avenue marketing appeal. It has not focused on making sure that the fundamentals of the game are taught and passed down to our current athlete. The game true essence has been compromised and we are left with celebrity television on the hard wood. The NBA was actually “More Fantastic” than it is today.