Every generation in the NBA is unique in its specific way. The game rules change every few years, and players themselves have different views, habits, and ideals than the previous generation. Today’s generation of NBA players probably has the most influence simply because of the immense platform they have through the NBA and their social media accounts, followed by millions of people worldwide. Despite all that, some NBA fans and analysts believe most of today’s players are concerned more about their other activities than getting better at their craft.
If you compare today’s NBA players to the ones from the ’80s or the 90’s you can see many differences predominantly when it comes to the approach they have for the game. You can also argue that the massive amounts of money players are given today incentivizes that you don’t have to work as hard because you will get paid anyways, no matter what kind of output you have. That is why the term ‘load management’ is quite popular these days in which players feel comfortable to skip games while on the other hand older generation of players would skip games only if they weren’t capable of playing because of a severe injury.
In his book ‘Driven from within,’ Michael Jordan talked about this problem and how the culture needs to set the right examples for the players today. Playing in the NBA is not a given right, but a privilege only a few can have, and being a successful NBA player takes a lot of sacrifices and hard work not many are willing to take. Apart from being incredibly talented, Jordan worked harder than everyone to achieve the excellence that is now associated with his name.
Our culture needs to see examples. You can hear about how somebody played or read about the best way to achieve success, but people need to see examples. Until they see, they won’t do. It’s easy to talk about what Jerry West did, but it’s not as easy to see what he did. Tomorrow’s kids will have to see someone playing hurt and see someone practicing the day after winning a championship.Michael Jordan, via Driven From Within
Jordan believes that setting good examples for the younger generation is essential if you expect them to have the same mindset and approach to anything they are doing, it doesn’t have to be just basketball. He also used a great example that is evident in the game today when players who have a minor injury decide to play in the game instead of using that as an excuse to skip games.
According to Jordan, young players need to understand that because if some things don’t change, that type of mindset will become a standard, and we’ll be surprised if we see a sick or hurt player play the game instead of sitting out. Before, especially if the big game is on the line, numerous star players wanted to play no matter what condition they were in, which is opposite to what we see now in the NBA.
We have to provide examples so they can relate to that ideal. Otherwise, they will get bad habits. If we lose that gap, then it starts to fade away, and 20 years from now, you will never see someone play sick, or get out on the floor with a sore ankle.Michael Jordan, via Driven From Within
Whether these things will improve or not in the near future depends on the players and the management of the NBA teams who see their players as assets more than anything else. NBA became a multi-billion dollar business in the past decade, which is suitable for the players because it means more lucrative deals, but you can argue that the love and the passion for the game are not on the same level it once was.
It’s up to the players to acknowledge the process former NBA legends had to go through to achieve the status of greatness any young player should aim for when coming to the league. The pattern and the process to obtain this is known, but not all are willing to go down that route.