From Charles Barkley through Scottie Pippen and on through a wide swath of former NBA players, there is a current of Warriors hate, of Stephen Curry backlash. The #getoffmylawn crowd. The “back in my day we would have pushed them around” line of thinking. Which is a steaming pile of… fertilizer. But older players — and, frankly, many older fans — need to cling to the idea that their era was better than today, just like we do in every corner of American culture. We long for an easier, better past that never existed. It soothes our egos.
Klay Thompson isn’t bothered by all of that.
“I mean, I think the hate and all that, it’s going to come whoever it is,” Thompson said Wednesday, the day before he and his Warriors try to become back-to-back champions. “I’m probably going to hate on the younger generation too when it’s all said and done. I mean, my father still does it. He says we’re soft these days and in this day and age, but I think that’s just natural.”
Klay’s father is Mychael Thompson, the former No. 1 pick who won rings next to Magic Johnson as part of the Showtime Lakers. He’s now a sports talk radio host in Los Angeles, and there is no shortage of “back in my day” stories. Although you can also tell, he’s one proud father.
The older generation complaining about the newer one is nothing new, and certainly not confined to hoops. Greek philosopher Socrates, back around 400 BC, said “children are now tyrants,” lived in luxury, and were disobedient to their parents. In basketball, people fetishize rivalries of the 1980s, or the toughness of the 1990s, as if the game where clutching and grabbing and a loose interpretation of fouls that took the skill away from players was somehow a purer version of the game. People remember Jordan and Barkley and forget what an ugly slogs most games of that era were.
We’re going to hear a lot of this talk again during the Finals. The game evolves, styles evolve, offenses and defenses evolve, and players evolve (and generally get better). If you don’t like it, I’m sure there’s a Matlock rerun on some other channel opposite the Finals.