Can you talk about it, if you've never played it? Are playing basketball and discussing it correlated? Allen Iverson doesn't think so. According to him, they're exclusive from one another.
This isn't a freedom of speech-related issue. Everyone can talk basketball. Everyone can discuss it. It's more on the note of how much merit do your words have if you've never experienced it firsthand. Take Skip Bayless, for instance. He didn't come from a sports background. In fact, Skip never played basketball at a high level. The self-proclaimed Maravich only averaged 1.4 points in his senior year. Calling him Water Pistol Pete Jr. might be more suitable.
Despite all of it, Skip is making a living discussing the NBA. Not many like his basketball takes, as he's one of the more controversial NBA analysts out there. But the guy is an industry legend, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Whether it's the LeBron hate, hopping on and off Kawhi bandwagon, or roasting Dwight Howard - Skip's contentious approach did wonders for him. But the lack of respect shown through it rubs guys the wrong way. That's when questions about his credibility arise. That's when the can you talk about it if you've never played it discussion start. And according to The Answer, there's no need for such talk in the first place.
I'm not the type of man that feel like if you ain't a Hall of Famer or if you have never played basketball, you don't know what the f--- you talking about. I don't look at it like that because I know a whole bunch of dudes that never played the game and know what the hell they talking about. It's women and men out here that ain't never played it before, but know what the hell they talking about. Straight up.
Allen Iverson, The Front Stoop: Hip Hop, Society, and Life
Bayless isn't the only one who's credibility is questioned. Every NBA pundit has been through it at some point in their careers. But can they still discuss the game? Sure they can. And are there people who've never played the game that know a thing or two about it? Sure!
The basketball matter is easily obtainable, and learning about it is at hand reach. And people are putting in the effort. It's called developing a basketball mind, and having a playing background doesn't condition it. It sure helps, as you have the insight in more practical stuff rather than focusing on solely theoretical. But simply rejecting someone's basketball-related opinion based on the fact they've never played the game is absurd.
So I'm with Iverson on this one.