The NBA has gone soft over the last 20 years. Watching the Jordan documentary has got me missing the more physical days of NBA basketball, when players could not only hand check but could beat the living shit out of each other.
In today’s NBA if you so much as knock a guy unconscious, the refs call an immediate flagrant foul. Back in the day, if a player still had blood coursing through their veins, that was a play on.
Steph Curry hitting threes is cute and all but I’d love to see him do it after having his arms, legs and nose ripped off by the Knicks like we saw Reggie Miller do time and again. It’s a joke to call Steph the greatest shooter of all time in such a coddled era of basketball where players feel entitled to have all major appendages attached at all times.
And kids these days are missing out on some classic moments that physicality enabled. Like game three of the ‘91 Eastern Conference Finals when Bill Laimbeer stabbed Horace Grant in the back only for Grant to shrug it off, dunk on him and then proceed to cut Laimbeer’s nutsack off. Laimbeer didn’t even get subbed out. He played the entire second half of that game without most of his scrotum. No disrespect to James Harden, but he would average two points a game in a league where sterilizing your opponent wasn’t an automatic two-shot foul.
Today’s use of replay has also gotten out of control to the point where they review every ticky-tack blow to the head to see if it was a potentially brain damaging shot. In the 80’s the only reviews they ran were autopsies to confirm whether or not a player was scientifically dead. If you didn’t have a death certificate you weren’t getting the whistle. And even if you did, it was a side-out.
So enough with the Lebron-Jordan debate. Jordan used to be crucified three times a game, rising back from the dead each time thanks to his unparalleled clutch gene. Lebron would be at best a fringe bench player if he had to endure even one resurrection a game.
Maybe I’m just from a different time. A couple months ago I was playing 1-on-1 with a friend who decapitated me, spanked me twice and then lit me on fire but I let it go because you can’t call every little thing. My doctor says I’ll never walk, chew or breathe again, but at least I played the game the way it was meant to be played.