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Today’s NBA Stinks

The Associated Press

Don’t you remember how great the NBA used to be?

Today’s NBA is far too soft. It used to be physical.

What the game lacks is brute strength; physicality over athleticism. Derek Harper was slow, so he neutralized his opposition’s athletic advantage by hand-checking guards every spot on the floor. Watching Blake Griffin dunk gets really old after awhile. It’d be a lot more fun to watch Lob City get clobbered by Bill Laimbeer. If you attacked the paint, you were liable to get smacked around. Whatever happened to playoff fouls? As opposed to watching a game that’s played above the rim, wouldn’t we prefer those dudes get laid out like the good old days?

Stephen Curry? Please, in the glory days of the NBA a 6’3’’ 120-pound guard like Curry wouldn’t be allowed to splash shots in from every spot on the floor. One visit into the paint and Maurice Lucas would’ve made sure that Curry didn’t return. The game is entirely too soft now, and it’s tough to watch. I yearn for the days in which physicality meant more than athleticism.

It’s not just the physicality either; NBA players are far too friendly. There’s way too much man love.

Last week, noted NBA purist Kobe Bryant went on Shaq’s podcast to espouse the virtuous NBA, the one they dominated:

“It’s a different generation,” Kobe said on The Big Podcast with Shaq. “I grew up playing against Michael and (Gary Payton) and all these stone-cold assassins, (like) John Stockton and all these guys. So I had that mentality. You don’t really see that mentality around the league these days. Everybody’s buddy-buddy.”

Kobe’s old school; he doesn’t have friends. He made that clear during an interview this year with Chuck Klosterman of GQ Magazine. He doesn’t have time for real, interpersonal relationships with other human beings, especially other NBA players. He’s a stone-cold assassin like Michael. Imagine how ridiculous it’d look to see Michael and Charles Barkley on the golf course together, fraternizing in photos like today’s NBA stars.

Where are all the stone-cold assassins? When was the last time you saw LeBron James, the king of paper tigers, hit a dagger, a meaningful last-second shot in the playoffs? Steph Curry…an assassin? Hardly. The only thing he’s assassinated is parenthood. It’s past midnight on the West Coast, Steph. Put Riley to bed. So he makes a ton of three point shots? Like more than any other player ever? So what? Real men utilize the mid-range.

Kobe is right, isn’t he? That tough, old school, aggressive mentality allowed the Lakers to flourish under Kobe and Shaq. It’s definitely the main reason they won three titles and then subsequently had a mutually beneficial separation. Without that assassin mentality, Shaq and Kobe might have stayed together in Los Angeles, and that would’ve been a disaster.

Players are softer now. It’s a fact. Just look at the amount of minutes played per game. Tom Thibodeau, noted old school crusader, watched Michael Jordan play 45 minutes a night from the opposing bench.

This past year was the first time in the modern NBA no player exceeded the 3,000-minute mark. In the late ’90s, 50 players reached that mark. See, they’re softer. You can’t argue with facts.

I never understood why Gregg Popovich rested Tim Duncan significantly throughout the course of a season. Why not play Tim heavy minutes like Kobe. There’s plenty of time for rest during the offseason. I mean Kobe basically never played less than 39 minutes per game in his career, and he’s had plenty of time to rest the last two seasons.

During the podcast, Shaq claimed that he was responsible for killing off the 7-foot center:

“Think about it,” said Kobe. “When you go back to when you played, you can name off five or six seven-footers off the top of your head. Try doing it now.”

There’s another poignant anecdote from Kobe. What happened to all of the seven-footers and why did so many of them move further away from the rim? Take it easy, Marc Gasol. When Shaq played, seven-footers didn’t have to shoot free throws, let alone three pointers. Same goes for you, LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki. Kobe was right; it is really difficult to think of current seven-footers.

The NBA used to be so great. I can’t believe ESPN and TNT, the league’s two TV partners, shoveled out $2.9 billion, a 180 percent increase from its previous deal, to televise a slate of national games. I suppose they didn’t get the memo. The NBA sucks now.

The last time I went to a game, I was surrounded by foreigners. My team is now drafting players from countries I can’t even pronounce. If the NBA gets any more diverse, Donald Trump is going to demand we put up a wall.

Internationally, basketball is the second-most played sport. You know what’s first: Soccer. Soccer!? That’s right, basketball is second to the most boring sport on the planet. Thanks, Obama.

The NBA is so boring in America, the 2014-2015 Finals were shown in more than 215 countries.

I suppose when the NBA shows up again in late October I’ll reluctantly watch. It used to be easy to watch great players. You only had to watch two teams, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Now there are great players everywhere. There are five teams you could legitimately argue that could make it out of the Western Conference. That’s entirely too many teams and games to pay attention to.

The game has changed. Naismith would be sick. When he hung that first peach basket and had a tip-off at center court after every made basket, he despised any changes that might be made to his already perfect game. I’m sure he’d utterly detest the way his game has devolved.

Kobe and Shaq are right. As are many other players from previous generations. The glory days are long gone. Evolution has diluted the game. It’s too late for the NBA. Adam Silver’s league is far from gold.

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