In ’18, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Lawrence Murray wrote an article on “The unwritten rules for modern-day trash talk.” The first one is “Don’t make it personal,” the second is “Be quiet on the bench,” and the third one is “Check your status.”
How did we reach the point where one of the game’s indispensable parts has to go under some sort of unofficial regulations? How did we go from verbal sparring being a daily occurrence in the NBA to being an anomaly today? John Wall has the answer, and it’s on the players’ camaraderies.
A lot of guys be too friendly now. They weren’t friendly; they were trying to rip each other head off. Now everybody’s like buddy-buddy.John Wall, Fubo Sports
It’s the product of chain reaction that started after the 90s. And while we’ve witnessed its branches in the ’00s, the AAU upringings of today’s generations of NBA players had the league step away from the old school mentality of being at each other’s throaths.
Guys today develop relationships that impact how they treat each other on NBA hardwoods. You see it in their head-to-head matchups, you see it during the free agency, you see it on their social media accounts. Everything is much more on a friendly note, and there’s no real discrepancy between how they act on and off the court.
Even things like pick up games. They seem to be more about hanging out than actually competing against each other. They seem to be more about having a highlight moment to post on the social media account than actually improving. And that’s not how it used to be.
We used to call each other for a reason. Let’s go at each other. We have to get each other better. Because when you go to practice, you’re not getting that competition. So when you have it, you have to take it.Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
I’m not saying that things should get so personal that players really do become enemies. I’m not saying that they can’t or shouldn’t be friends after the final buzzer sounds. I’m not saying that pick up games should turn into brawls. But once that ball tips off, it should be all about the game of basketball and doing it all to finish the game victorious.
That’s why having a guy like John Wall and his ‘I got no friends on the court’ mentality is something the NBA needs more of. Seeing things like him and Michael Beasley going at each other in the offseason should be a standard and not a standout.
This is what the NBA should be about. Spalding and the guys wearing the same jerseys are the only friends players should have on the court.