Skip to main content

If you flopped, we punished you more" - Larry Johnson shares his honest take on today's NBA

LeBron wouldn't even think about learning how to flop had he played in Larry Johnson's era
Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson

Every legend has his own take on today's NBA. But if we are to ask the insight of a 90s NBA bruiser like former Charlotte Hornets star Larry Johnson, we'll surely get a familiar response – the game is lacking physicality.

Flopping didn't exist in the 90s

In recent years, the storyline that today's NBA has been notably less physical has become a staple in basketball discussions. The old heads make a strong point, as modern-day players would rather flop than go hard. In fact, even 6-foot-9, 250-pound LeBron James famously said he probably should learn how to flop a few days ago.

Fortunately for guys like LeBron, it's no longer the 90s. Because if they played in that era and opted to flop during physical plays, make no mistake, Johnson would've taught them a lesson.

"Without a doubt, the game was more physical when I played," Johnson wrote in a recent Facebook post. "No one practices the inside game anymore and today everyone wants to shoot the ball. Toughness was a mindset. If you flopped, we punished you more."

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

LJ's pick

For those who didn't know, Johnson was one of the most physical players of his generation. Some guys talk about being physical on the court, but Johnson lived it.

During his prime, Johnson primarily functioned as a two-way power forward. He rivaled the best fours of the 90s, such as prime Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber. Indeed, it was a tough era, but "Grandmama" still stood out, earning two All-Star appearances in the process.

While it's totally understandable why Johnson is among those who are critical about the lack of physicality in today's NBA, on the other hand, he also acknowledges those who play hard despite being in the so-called "soft" era.

"We look at these youngsters, and I go 'Okay, who could have played with us?'…[Kawhi] Leonard, of course, I think cause he plays defense first," Johnson assessed. "So I think Kawhi definitely would've fit in. Of course, LeBron because he got the big body. He can play. I don't think he'd be as dominant as with us as he is with these youngsters, you know. He would get into some fights. It was a challenge; you know what I mean? You don't see a lot of physical play down low. I think even the center play is not there anymore. You got Joel Embiid. Embiid is just dominating everybody cause he is willing to go down low and do it."

Judging by how the game is being played these days, it wouldn't be a shock to hear more old-school players like Johnson share their blunt comments on modern-day NBA.

February 23, 2009; Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Jackson during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center

Stephen Jackson shares his two most memorable moments playing for the “We Believe” Warriors

The Warriors experienced some brief success in the 2000s, thanks partly to Jackson's strong play.

January 1, 2019; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid talks to Markelle Fultz on the bench before a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center

“I felt like we had given up on him too early” - Joel Embiid explains why he was disappointed when the 76ers traded Markelle Fultz

The Sixers had to do the trade to get rid of the drama surrounding the 2017 No. 1 pick and focus on a title run.

Boston Celtics guard Dennis Johnson in action at the Boston Garden

“His act of kindness enabled me to keep that job” - A motivational speaker shares a heartwarming Dennis Johnson story

After working odd jobs as a teenager, carrying two heavy jugs was probably no big deal for Johnson.

NFL legend Shannon Sharpe, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, former NBA player Stephen Jackson

“LeBron ain’t gonna run up and fight nobody for you. Keep that in mind” - Stephen Jackson warns Shannon Sharpe about his relationship with LeBron James

James said that he’s got Sharpe’s back just as much as the analyst has his but Jackson doesn't believe this is the case.


"Mess with Stockton and you mess with me" - Karl Malone on what John Stockton meant to him

The connection between Karl Malone and John Stockton goes beyond basketball


"Let's see what this guy did in his career" — Why Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't initially impressed with Jason Kidd

The NBA was heading toward the positionless ball during Jason Kidd's time in Milwaukee. The point guard knew that Giannis Antetokounmpo was the ace up in his sleeves.

January 31, 2023; Jamal Murray interviewed by TNT broadcaster Chris Haynes after the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena

"Winning a championship!" - Jamal Murray talks about Denver Nuggets' ultimate goal while praising Nikola Jokic

Jamal Murray has had long process of recovery after his ACL injury, but he is back on track, and ready to help the team win a championship.

Detroit Pistons guard Joe Dumars (4)/Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley (34)

“Give me that sh*t, Joe!” - When Charles Barkley stopped Joe Dumars from dunking in traffic again

While hardly a defensive menace, Chuck did enough to dissuade Dumars from trying to posterize opponents again.