We’ve heard the same broken record since Socrates walked the earth, every generation of grandparents lament “these kids today don’t understand hard work” or “don’t appreciate how easy they have it” or “feel entitled.”
In that same vein, every generation of NBA players that has been in the league for a decade or so starts to complain that the game/younger players have gotten soft and don’t understand the nuances of the sport.
The latest in that line of “get off my lawn” old men is Metta World Peace, speaking after Lakers’ practice Saturday,
“I remember I came into the NBA in 1999, the game was a little bit more rough. The game now is more for kids. It’s not really a man’s game anymore,” World Peace said. “The parents are really protective of their children. They cry to their AAU coaches. They cry to the refs, ‘That’s a foul. That’s a foul.’
“Sometimes I wish those parents would just stay home, don’t come to the game, and now translated, these same AAU kids whose parents came to the game, ‘That’s a foul.’ These kids are in the NBA. So now we have a problem. You’ve got a bunch of babies professionally around the world.”
“It’s no longer a man’s game,” he said. “It’s a baby’s game. There’s softies everywhere. Everybody’s soft. Nobody’s hard no more. So, you just deal with it, you adjust and that’s it.”
He will get a lot of support in the comments, and readers at home — especially anyone over 30 — will be nodding their heads.
The NBA in the 1990s had turned into a slowed down, dragged out wrestling match thanks to Par Riley’s Knicks and Mike Frattello’s Cavaliers (among others). Television ratings were high but only because Michael Jordan was the most transcendent of superstars, once he walked away people tuned out because the game became painful to watch.
The NBA tweaked enforcement of the rules, not allowing hand checking on the perimeter, cracking down on hard fouls, and modifying things to open the way for quick players to use that speed — slowly but surely penetration by point guards who weren’t getting mugged returned to the game. Speed mattered. Then Tom Thibodeau helped out by taking advantage of the zone defense rules to create a defense designed to stymie isolation basketball from the wing. It took a while for offenses to counter, but what you got out of it was a faster tempo and quality ball movement we’ve seen in the last three title winners (Miami, San Antonio, and Golden State).
Good teams are playing faster, moving the ball well, and playing beautiful basketball now. But sure, what we miss is a dragged down, game where you can just grab/clutch/hack your opponents with impunity on the way to the rim. That was sure fun to watch. Maybe we should return to the 1940s and 50s when professional basketball more closely resembled football in the paint?
Don’t be your grandparents, people. Embrace the modern game.