The NBA changes as a league every decade or so. That leads to some useful adjustments but also some that are disliked by the fans. Numerous NBA fans that followed basketball in the 80’s or the 90’s feel the game is much softer than it is right now, and players that played during those years say the same thing. Xavier McDaniel was one of those tough, old-school players that didn’t back down from anybody, and that was the mentality he brought for every team he played for in his career.
During his appearance on the NYSEA sports radio, McDaniel touched upon the main difference between his era and the NBA today. McDaniel said players like Giannis, who often stare down on someone or get overly hyped after a dunk, would probably not end well if he played in the ’80s. Guys like Maurice Lucas, who also had a habit of fighting, would possibly initiate something.
“It’s a different game now. I know the kids don’t like it when we say that, but it’s the truth. Like Greek Freak, when he dunks, he stares you down, flexing. When I played, if you do that, somebody like a Maurice Lucas would say next time send him my way. And Lucas would do his best to knock him out of the game. You had to be a man to play in my time.”
McDaniel said that when he was a rookie, the mentality in the team was different and that the veterans themselves said fighting is a must if it means winning the game. Even though that would never fly in today’s NBA and the players themselves have changed quite a bit, the truth is things back then were very much different. McDaniel also said he got into over ten fights only in his rookie year to prove himself to his older teammates.
“When I came in as a rookie, veterans across the league would go out their way to make rookies lives a living hell on the court. So the veterans on my team told me ‘Rook, you gotta fight through that’ so, that’s what I did. I fought. I had 13,14 fights my rookie year and got fined $500 for each fight. But I wanted to send a message I wasn’t going to back down.”