Tag: NBA History

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 5

Today’s players more athletic than 20 years ago, but are they better?


Nobody in their right mind wonders if Magic Johnson, Dr. J or Larry Bird could compete in today’s NBA. Certain players would succeed in any era.

But could the average NBA player from the 1980s compete in the NBA of 2011? Well, let’s make that 2010 because who knows if there will be an NBA in 2011. But you get the idea — it’s fun in video games, but could it really happen.

A player like, say, Mitch Kupchak. A North Carolina standout who had a nine-year NBA career, won a couple rings and was a solid 10 points, 5 rebounds a game guy from 1976 – ’86.

Over at Lakers.com, Mike Trudell asked both Lakers GM Kupchak and longtime trainer Gary Vitti to compare the two eras and their players.

“In my opinion, we have much better athletes today but maybe not as good of basketball players,” said Vitti. “There are plenty of exceptions, but many players of today are not as skilled because they didn’t need to be growing up; they were competitive by running by you or jumping over you, and didn’t need to be skilled because of their athletic ability.

“A case in point are the European players who are generally less athletic but have better skills.”

The conversation was sparked because Kupchack’s 14-year-old son Maxwell taunts his dad in 1-on-1 games that he couldn’t make an NBA roster today.

“I think today’s players, to a great degree because of the innovative training techniques that are available that didn’t exist or weren’t believed in 30 years ago, if you’re looking at film may make it easy to say that today’s players are much more gifted than players of the past,” he said.

“You look at the players of the 1980’s (like) Kareem, Michael Jordan, Dr. J, Magic, Bird … they competed, and the players they competed against were able to compete with them,” he continued. “So to say that those players could not play and compete with players of today’s era would not be true.”

There are guys that come through the system now and do have a high basketball IQ, that do know the game. But the depth of knowledge is not what it was a couple decades ago. What would happen to a gifted but erratic guy like JaVale McGee on the 1980s Lakers or Celtics? Would he even get off the bench? Would he play a key role because of his athleticism?

There is no one correct answer, but Kupchak and Vitti have a great perspective from witch to judge.

James Naismith’s draft of 13 original rules for basketball up for auction

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James Naismith invented an elegantly simple game. Just 13 rules.

The game has evolved. There has become amazing complexity to get to the simple goal of putting the ball in the basket. The rulebook is now painfully thick.

But you can own the original, simple 13 rules. Ian Naismith, grandson of James, is putting the original recordings of the rules up for auction through Sotheby’s, according to the New York Times (via Ball Don’t Lie).

It’s likely going to cost you a cool $2 million to get the two type-written (and still legible) pages in your home. Unless Mark Cuban gets involved, then all bets are off. Just ask Nolan Ryan. The auction is in Manhattan on Dec. 10. (Just in time for anyone looking to get me a Christmas gift.)

Hopefully they land in an appropriate place, where they can be appreciated and cared for properly.

We also recommend reading the NYT story by Rickard Sandomir, which is a fascinating look back at the evolution of the rules for the game — Naismith’s rules do not account for dribbling, students at his YMCA in Springfield, Mass., invented that themselves. The story follows the evolution forward, however does not have any explanation for the league’s current technicals crackdown.