The NBA is a league of trends. Every era has its characteristics and patterns most teams followed in order for success. From a slow-paced inside game being the way to win, evolving to a fast-paced game, revolved about offense and three-point shooting with numerous others in between, the game is constantly changing.
Even though you could argue that players today are more skilled than ever, with the offenses being more efficient and dangerous than ever, that has proved not to be everybody’s cup of tea, as a lot of fans, especially the old school ones, prefer the vintage rugged style of play that rewarded defensive-minded teams back in the ’80s especially. Refs were much easier on the whistle, letting teams play and giving defenders a lot more leverage when guarding their matchup—that created rivalries and exciting games between players and teams, resolving in much more interesting games than today.
One of the advocates for old-school basketball is one of the best players ever and an individual who dominated in the tough defense era, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. In an interview from a few years ago, “Cap” explained why he doesn’t like today’s NBA:
“Nowadays, they’ll take 20 shots in a half, three-point shots. So by putting a premium on a low percentage shot, it’s changed the nature of the game…It’s different. I don’t enjoy watching it as much, but I think the fans like it, so it’s gonna remain part of the game.”Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Universe Galaxy
The interviewer then compared Kareem’s “Showtime” Lakers to the Warriors dynasty in terms of the pace they play at, even though they revolved around much different aspects of the game. Kareem explained why he doesn’t agree with the comparison of those two teams:
“I think it’s a bad analogy because we played the game differently on both ends of the court. And we had an inside-outside thing going at Showtime. The Warriors don’t have too much going inside, but they have absolutely shot the lights out.”Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Universe Galaxy
The “Showtime” Lakers of the ’80s led by Magic, Worthy, and Kareem were a revolution for the NBA, bringing never-before-seen pace and flair to the game. They were ahead of their time, but that doesn’t mean you can compare them with the modern Warriors teams. The Lakers had more diversity and focus on the defensive end of the floor while trying to get to the rack rather than settling for outside jump shots like the Warriors like Kareem pointed out.
Like many former NBA players from the older era, Kareem doesn’t like today’s way of basketball and the lack of defense. I can see where they are coming from, as the emphasis on three-point shooting and the lack of good defense have taken away from the competitiveness and diversity of the game. But that evolution also gave us some of the best scoring performances and highlights we have ever seen. As I said initially, the NBA is a league of trends, and once the three-point shooting craze ends, we will have something new dominating the game.