Oscar Robertson said it’s “great to see” Stephen Curry succeed.
Unfortunately, Robertson — an all-time great — kept going.
Oscar Robertson on ESPN’s Mike & Mike:
I just don’t think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball. They don’t know anything about defenses. They don’t know where people are going on the court. They talk about analytical basketball and stuff like that.
He’s shot well because of what’s going on in basketball today. In basketball today, the game today, it’s almost like if you can dunk or shot a 3-point shot, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
There have been some great shooters in the past. We had a kid on our team in Adrian Smith who shot. Jerry West shot the ball very well.
But here again, when I played years ago, if you shot a shot outside and hit, next time, I’m going to be up on top of you. I’m going to pressure you with three-quarters, half-court defense or three-quarters defense. But now, they don’t do that.
That’s why I said these coaches do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned. If I’ve got a guy who’s great shooting the shot outside, hey man, don’t you want to extend your defense out a little bit?
Curry is destroying shooting records because opposing coaches don’t know what they’re doing? OK. That doesn’t even come close to passing the smell test.
In the same interview, Robertson bemoans how easily NBA teams produce layups now. Does he believe closely guarding Curry further from the basket, maybe even with multiple defenders, would help protect the rim? Curry is adept at passing out of traps and getting the Warriors open shots closer to the basket. He can also drive if his man gets too close.
It’s not so simple to stop him. NBA coaches aren’t just stupid.
Robertson also brings up Adrian Smith as a shining shooter from his era. Smith played in the NBA before the 3-point arc, but he spent one season in the ABA with it. He shot 2-for-11 (18%) on 3-pointers in 53 games. It’s examples like that which convince me nearly all, if not all, the best shooters played in the last 25 years. Just look at how terribly NBA players shot 3-pointers when the arc was first introduced. Previous generations didn’t shoot well from outside because they didn’t need to. There wasn’t enough incentive to shoot far from the basket when a make was still worth just two points.
Robertson’s whole spiel definitely has a “get off my lawn” vibe to it.
Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago raised a good point about Robertson’s statements, though:
So perhaps Robertson’s point of view is understandable. That just doesn’t make it credible.