Skip to main content

Kobe Bryant believed European basketball is more competitive than the NBA

Kobe-Bryant

One of the main criticisms of today's game is the lack of physicality compared to previous eras. With no hand-checking and every important contact that is being called, offensive players get a lot more protection from the refs. While it did contribute to more movement and points being scored, not everyone agrees; it made the game better. I would expect this to be a standard "kids today are soft like charmin'" argument, but Kobe Bryant surprised me.

Two years after his retirement in 2016, Kobe talked about the NBA and the lack of physical play in the modern NBA. That is the point where retired players start talking about how it was more difficult back in their day, and they would put up monster stats if only they got to play in today's "soft" NBA. Kobe did start with that.

"It's more competitive, you get to see players go mano-a-mano a little bit as opposed to, 'oh my god, he put a hand on me, it's a foul'. That's got to go."

Kobe Bryant, Reuters

Breaking news, Kobe likes to see people go mano-a-mano; maybe even mano-a-everyone. Jokes aside, it's not surprising Kobe loves to see players battle it out in a more physical manner, Mamba never shied away from contact and conflict. Where Kobe's argument changes from most veterans were that it's not as much about cheap machismo and measuring the size of ones…you get the idea.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"It challenges players to improve their skill level because now, if you can hand check and things like that, you really must be fundamentally sound. You must be able to handle the ball to be able to get past defenders."

Kobe Bryant, Reuters

I don't think I ever heard a player make a point like this from a skill-based point of view. The conventional thinking is that players today are more skilled but delicate little flowers. Following Kobe's logic, they wouldn't make the cut in a more physical era, not because of their lack of toughness but because of lack of skill. It's easier to be a good passer and ball-handler when people can't touch you.

Maybe that's why Kobe was following European basketball more back in the day. European players are often labeled as soft, but Kobe seems to think that the trend is changing.

"I feel like European basketball is more physical than the NBA is right now."

Kobe Bryant, Reuters

That is the first time a veteran/retired player made a "back in my day" case that I didn't consider to be nostalgia mixed with machismo. There is something to Kobe's argument, but I'd still take a random game from 2020/21 over a random game from the hand-checking era.

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown and forward Jayson Tatum

“The energy is about to shift” — Jaylen Brown’s quote was the Boston Celtics’ battle cry for Game 7

Jaylen Brown tweeted "The energy is about to shift” in January and it kickstarted the turnaround for the Boston Celtics.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and wife Ayesha Curry

Sex, phone, coffee, or weed? Steph Curry tells Ayesha Curry what he couldn't live without for a month

Steph was quick to answer, and according to Ayesha's reaction, he gave the right answer.

Allen Iverson created his own path to the NBA that many players after him have looked to follow

Allen Iverson on creating his own path to the NBA that many players after him have looked to follow

Both on and off the court, Iverson stood out among the rest of his peers and helped revolutionize the NBA

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons

Brooklyn Nets reveal "summer plan" to fix setbacks with Ben Simmons which includes mental health

The Nets reportedly have come up with a promising plan to help Simmons. We'll believe it when we see it.

Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson, guard Michael Jordan, forward Toni Kukoc, and center Dennis Rodman

That time Phil Jackson made the Chicago Bulls watch “The Wizard of Oz” in practice to send a message

You gotta respect the Zen Master's innovative methods to get his team's head in the game.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum

“That’s why he gets paid the big bucks” — Jayson Tatum refused to let the Boston Celtics lose Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks

Tatum finally stepped up and outdueled Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 to force a winner takes all Game 7