In a recent appearance on the ‘Getcha Popcorn Ready’ podcast hosted by Terrell Owens and Matthew Hatchette, the ex-Lakers coach went off after being asked if he felt that the modern analytics movement “ruined the game”: Via fubo Sports: “Absolutely. I really started to see a change when I got to the Lakers as a coach because they used that so much as a weapon, ‘well, the analytics tells us..’ I understand the analytics. You’ve got to shoot more threes. But you can’t more threes if you have guys that can’t shoot. I said, ‘So what does that analytics telling you?’”

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The question mentioned 1980s Celtics player Cedric Maxwell, who said Draymond Green would’ve “got knocked the [****] out” back then. So, Green entertainingly railed against former players talking like that. “There were a few guys back then that would lay you out, that would knock you out, that would foul you and get thrown out the game,” Green said. “Bill Laimbeer. Rick Mahorn. But everybody running around acting like they were that. Y’all were getting bullied. So it, baffles me when every guy – just because they played in the ’80s, just because they played in the ’90s – is like, ‘Man, if you played in our day, you’d get knocked out.’ Okay, so you’re saying Rick Mahorn would have knocked me out? Rick Mahorn probably knocks you out. Bill Laimbeer probably lays you out.”
The NBA did have more physicality back then. But someone tough as Green would have fit seamlessly. There’s a reason he doesn’t resemble the enforcers of yesteryear. “Their fine was also two dollars,” Green said. “It’s just not the same day and age. If I go knock somebody out, I probably get fined a million dollars.”
Then Johnson revealed the advice Jordan gave him after the game. “Michael, after that game, he pulled me aside — I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this,” Johnson said. “He met me in between the locker rooms, and he said, ‘Earvin, you have to remember now, you’re not with Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), you’re not with James Worthy. All the guys you used to play with, showtime, are not on that Laker team anymore. So remember, maybe you should think about retiring.”
Oakley: The players these days know more about nutrition and do more core workouts with bands. We did more with weights. We ate everything. We ate fast food. For many years, we would have McDonald’s for breakfast and Burger King for lunch or dinner. In our era, we would just have to get things in our stomachs and live with that. Some people can play after eating a steak before the game. Some people say to eat pasta or chicken.But to each their own.
In an episode of the Boardroom, Kevin Durant offered a refreshing take on the never-ending debate between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Durant proposes that instead of looking at the two with the idea of which one is better, to look at them as simply different. Greatness is not exclusive.  “No comparison to what Michael Jordan did it’s just different,” Durant said on James. “It’s not like Jordan’s one and you [James] two. Ya’ll both are like something we’ve never seen before. Both unique, sitting in your own different area of greatness.”
Mike Trudell: LeBron: “I feel like my game would fit any era of NBA history.” Added that he’s always had a growth mindset, and wanted to continue to adapt with the game as it’s evolved. One area for him has been shooting the three, which was critical tonight (6 for 11).
All of us would be way better, plus the fact we know how to play [grin]. We actually knew how to run a pick and roll properly. We understood the game. A lot of these players don't understand the game. As good as some of them are, they'd be a lot better if they knew how to use that incredible God-gifted talent that they have. But they don't, because they weren't taught the game properly. Rick Barry, Basketball News
Barry's point is simple - the three is a great weapon, but it can't be your entire game plan. “There's more emphasis on three-point shooting, there's too much emphasis on one-on-one stuff. They still sometimes abuse the three-point shot.” The three-point shot used properly is a great weapon, but it shouldn't be your primary weapon. The Warriors lost a championship because they did nothing but shoot three-point shots in Game 7 against Cleveland when LeBron had that amazing block. Go to the damn basket, get to the free-throw line, put some points on the board! Rick Barry, Basketball News
To remind you, Berry is a Warriors legend. The title the Dubs won in 1975 with Barry as their leader is still considered one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history. That makes this comment even more dramatic. That was one of the worst...was probably THE worst last four minutes and forty seconds of NBA Finals Game 7s in the history of the league. One three-point shot by Kyrie Irving, one of two free throws by LeBron James - that was it. It was horrible. Rick Barry, Basketball News
When asked the poll question, NBA legend and NBA TV analyst Isiah Thomas responded "Absolutely," Giannis would perform at the same level. But, Thomas didn't stop there. He went on the rail against former players trashing current players and even mentioned Oakley by name. "Giannis going around Oakley, Giannis going around all them. He dunkin' on them. He bigger, he faster, he stronger. You can talk all that stuff 'cause you don't play no more. You can talk all that stuff 'cause you got gray hair and you sitting on the sidelines, smoking cigars about what you used to do. That dude will dog you ever single time y'all step on the court."
Giannis Antetokounmpo can't get any respect from the old heads these days. Retired former NBA All-Star Charles Oakley made a recent appearance on SLAM's No Pump Fakes podcast and gave a searing hot take about the Milwaukee Bucks star Antetokounmpo. 'He wouldn't have been a force back in the day,' said Oakley. 'He would have struggled because they would make him shoot jump shots. He wasn't gonna be doing those Eurosteps to the basket like he be doing, Eurostep to the basket and just get a layup. No, somebody's gonna knock his head off. 'I'm glad he doing what he doing now,' Oakley added. 'But he may be coming off the bench back in the day.'
NBA Central: Charles Oakley says Giannis Antetokounmpo would come off the bench in his era 😯 (Via @SLAMonline | h/t @AhnFireDigital )

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For years, Robertson would be shunned from a league that never attempted to find a place for him. But the players, the owners and the game won because Robertson demanded more. His fight delayed the merger of the NBA and the ABA for six years, and the 1976 settlement resulted in the Oscar Robertson Rule, which pushed players toward free agency and helped establish the modern NBA. “People tried to pooh-pooh that,” Robertson said of the rule that bears his name, “like it didn’t change basketball. It changed basketball forever. How could a player make $50 million a year playing basketball? I took a lot of heat for it. I’m still taking heat for it, I guess. But I think the Oscar Robertson Rule is really what propelled basketball to where it is today. Can you imagine guys sitting on the bench, averaging three or four points a game, making $10 million? I’m happy for them because I think it was on my watch that all these things happened. I just want people to know it.”
Bob McAdoo: I think my game would have been perfect for today. I’ve heard a lot of people say of all the old guys, Bob McAdoo’s game would have translated better than anyone because he was doing what [Kevin] Durant is doing now. I see these guys playing now, and they think it’s so phenomenal, and it is, but they got to realize it was done before them. I see Luka Doncic and Durant. I saw Dirk Nowitzki. I see all these big guys shooting and I’m like hmmm, that favors what I did in the 1970s.
Bob McAdoo: Now, they have the private jets, they can get out of town right after the game. We had to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to take a commercial jet. We had to take our own uniforms and shoes. These guys don’t have to take nothing. The only thing they have to bring is their game. Also, the money is different. These guys don’t have to fight to get contracts. They are giving guys averaging five points per game $50 million. It’s crazy.
Bob Pettit: My favorite player to watch is Kevin Durant. I consider myself a forward. He’s such an incredible player but I watch him because that’s the position that I played when I was playing basketball. I would not have wanted to have played against him, I know that. I think he would be as effective then as he is now. When the game gets on the line, he’s looking to take the shot. In any era, Kevin would have become an outstanding and wonderful player. But you’ve got all kinds of great players that just leave you in awe and you keep your mouth open when you’re watching them. It feels like every team has two, three or four great players on it who you can enjoy watching any night you watch them play.
Now in retirement, Manu Ginobili admits he wishes he was playing in today's high-paced NBA style. To celebrate the league's 75th anniversary, he spoke with the NBA about his time in the league and likes what he sees on the court from today's game. "If I could choose which era, I'd like to play now," said Ginobili. "Fast paced. A lot of threes. A lot of possessions." "I would have loved to have played in this time and be 28 (years old) now," he said.
When asked to give his best one-on-one players, his list reads of some of the best to ever play the game. "Well, I would think offensively, there are three guys, four, that are basically unstoppable one-on-one," he said. "Michael Jordan is the first one. Kobe [Bryant], KD [Kevin Durant] and Steph [Stephen Curry]." How about the players he wishes he can face in his prime? "I would like to play in my prime when I was fast enough... for example Zach [LaVine], even though I played against him, would be a great player to match up against," he said. "Donovan Mitchell. He's impressive and impressive set of skills."
Sharing his thoughts on the modern-day NBA, Miller, who played 18 seasons with the Pacers, stressed that unlike today, players were not pampered during his time and even injuries didn’t stop him from playing basketball. “I felt guilty when I didn’t play, even when I had a sprained ankle and I was able to play at 70, 75 percent, and I knew I could go,” Miller said on The Dan Patrick Show. “I felt guilty sitting out. I knew I could probably still shoot. Would I be able to move laterally on that ankle? Probably not, but I knew if the ball came to me and I was wide open, I still could be able to shoot, and that would help my team. So I felt guilty for not being on the floor. I felt guilty by leaving Dale and Antonio, and Rik Smits out there, so I always wanted to play.”
On a recent appearance on CBS Sports' "Nothing Personal with David Samson," Erving shared a bit of that insight, and while he didn't go as far as to say his era was the best, he did throw a little jab at this generation of players when asked about how players from his era weren't given first-class treatment as they had to fly commercial and often had to room with other teammates.
"That was the good old days, it kept the humility intact," Erving said. "You felt honored to be a professional athlete and not privileged, because there was just some things you just had to suck it up and go do. We depended a lot on our trainers and equipment managers and what have you to move the franchise from city to city, and you always had to catch the first flight out the next morning so we didn't have a lot of the conveniences they have today, but that's okay. I think it's made some of the players a little softer than the '70s, '80s, '60s and '50s players, but there's fan appreciation for the softness and the finesse and it is what it is."
What’s your take on the current state of the N.B.A. game? Kevin Garnett: The game is at another level. I know you said that you made the team with Vancouver, but I want you to get on a court, sprint corner to corner, stop on a dime and shoot a 3. I want you to do 10 of those. Then I want you to focus on how tired you are. Because these players do that for 48 minutes. I don’t think guys from 20 years ago could play in this game.
Kevin Garnett: Twenty years ago, guys used their hands to control players. Now you can’t use your hands. That makes defense damn near impossible. Can you imagine not hand-checking Michael Jordan? Naw. The fact that you can’t touch players gives the offensive player so much flexibility. Defensive players have to take angles away and stuff like that. But if you have any creativity and ambition, you can be a great offensive player in this league.
Kevin Garnett: The fadeaways, one-leg runners, the one-leg balance shots — that’s stuff that Dirk Nowitzki brought to our game. And now when I watch Joker play, it feels like he has taken that Dirkness and mixed it with his own talent. And Steph Curry revolutionized things with being able to shoot it from distance with such consistency. Klay Thompson. Dame Lillard. These guards changed the game. I don’t know if even the guards from 20 or 30 years ago could play in this time right here. It’s creative. It’s competitive. It’s saucy. You’ll get dropped! A [expletive] will cross you over and break your A.C.L. these days. The game is in a great place.
Reggie Miller, who is one of the better shooters in NBA history, spoke on this topic earlier this week. As an analyst for TNT, he gave his thoughts on a foul that was called during a Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat game. “If this was in the 90’s,” Miller said, “[and] you couldn’t contest my shots, you had to go on the side of me, I’d average 45 points. I just don’t know how you contest shots nowadays.”
Shaquille O'Neal thinks his Lakers would've easily stopped the Golden State Warriors. O'Neal, who won three NBA championships alongside Kobe Bryant with the Lakers in 2000, 2001 and 2002, said the Warriors would've had a big problem against him. "Who is gonna guard me on that team?' O'Neal asked on the Frank Caliendo Podcast. Draymond Green's name was brought up. O'Neal immediately dismissed him as a threat. "He gonna be in foul trouble the first two minutes, let's put it that way," O'Neal said.
For many it’s unequivocally Jordan, as he’s gone 6-for-6 in the NBA Finals, compared to LeBron’s 3-for-6 record in the Finals. Morey views it much differently, however, but he added a minor detail change to help him make his pick. The Rockets general manager was on ESPN LA’s Mason and Ireland talk radio show and shared his take. “People love to talk about this. For sure LeBron is the greatest human to play basketball. That’s not even a question, but it’s not even fair to Michael Jordan to say that. LeBron is years later and the game has evolved. And every athlete is pretty much better than the athletes were 30 years ago. If you put MJ in the league now, that would be an interesting discussion but if you just want to say who is the best human to ever play basketball, I think it’s pretty obvious.”

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"At that time, people were calling Larry Bird the quintessential forward," Rodman says. "He was great, but he couldn't play multiple positions like Scottie could. He wasn't agile enough. I just don't think people realize what Scottie was doing in 1991. "He revolutionized the point-forward position. All these players today should thank Scottie Pippen. Guys like Kevin Durant should say, 'Wow, look what you did for us.' Scottie could handle, he could shoot the ball, he could defend, he could rebound. "If LeBron was playing during the '90s, I'd still say Scottie Pippen was the second-best player behind Michael."
Ron Adams: “But he is (on the court) guided by his will to succeed, his will to win. And, more than that, his will to do it his way. That’s not unlike Jordan and the other great players. Steph is playing in a different era, with different defensive rules, but the way he is wired, he would have adjusted to any time period. His drive is very similar to all the great players that have played the game.”
Spencer Dinwiddie: And just for added context I definitely think MJ had the best prime NBA years of all time. And that Kareem is the basketball GOAT. But y’all thought MJ was a God in the 80’s/90’s because he was 6’6 with a 40 I’m 6’6 with a 40 in 2020 and y’all think I’m unathletic Rolling on the floor laughing
"I think this generation [of players] is not getting enough credit for what they're doing," Thomas said. "Because the athletes that are in this generation are so far superior than what was in my generation. [When we were playing], Jordan was the best athlete that we had ever seen, [but] from an athletic standpoint, there are like 10 or 11 guys in the NBA right now with Jordan's athleticism. We didn't have that back then. With what [Kevin Durant] and LeBron are doing, if you put them back in the era of the '80s, with their talent, their athleticism and their skill, who's the GOAT?"
So there's no way the Hall of Famer would choose the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls to beat the 2016-17 Warriors in a seven-game series, right? That is right. "I go with the Warriors on that one just because of the offensive firepower," Mullin told NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh on "The Habershow" podcast. Would he still pick the Warriors if he was face-to-face with Michael Jordan and had to answer the question? "I would. I would," Mullin declared. "It's really not about Michael and Scottie (Pippen). Those guys will handle their business. And they'd probably be able to really -- I don't know about shut down -- but really make it tough for Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson). They'd put Scottie on Steph -- Phil Jackson's philosophy was cut the head of the snake off, so that would be a long series for Steph. "Michael and (Ron) Harper could hound Klay. Now, hounding and stopping are two different things. But with (Kevin) Durant -- you're talking about arguably the top offensive player when it's all said and done. He's gonna be up there all time."
So there's no way the Hall of Famer would choose the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls to beat the 2016-17 Warriors in a seven-game series, right? That is right. "I go with the Warriors on that one just because of the offensive firepower," Mullin told NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh on "The Habershow" podcast. Would he still pick the Warriors if he was face-to-face with Michael Jordan and had to answer the question? "I would. I would," Mullin declared. "It's really not about Michael and Scottie (Pippen). Those guys will handle their business. And they'd probably be able to really -- I don't know about shut down -- but really make it tough for Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson). They'd put Scottie on Steph -- Phil Jackson's philosophy was cut the head of the snake off, so that would be a long series for Steph. "Michael and (Ron) Harper could hound Klay. Now, hounding and stopping are two different things. But with (Kevin) Durant -- you're talking about arguably the top offensive player when it's all said and done. He's gonna be up there all time."
"I would average more because you can't foul as hard [in today's game]," O'Neal said. And as far as playing against the modern-era bigs? "You can shoot jumpers, but you have to understand that when you're shooting jumpers, you have to have your legs. F--k around with me three or four quarters, you're not going to have your legs," O'Neal continued. "That's why every guy who shot jumpers against me probably had a nice one, two or even three quarters. But in that fourth quarter? I'm just going to go into the middle of the block, you're going to be in foul trouble, so you're not going to be in the game. And then when you try to shoot a jump shot, I'm going to get up on you. And when you drive by me, I'm going to try to break your arm. I'm going to foul you real hard and get in your head."
Real recognize real. Last year, former NBA superstar Allen Iverson stated that current Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is in his top five players of all time, adding that Curry would be the starting point guard if he were to assemble an all-time starting five. Since then, Iverson’s comments have stuck with Curry. The two-time MVP admitted in an episode of Showtime’s “All the Smoke” that he has Iverson’s remark saved on his phone. “I ain’t never had a big head. That dude who I picked up a lot of game and inspiration from — he’s now looking at my game … Some OGs, they don’t want to relinquish the praise. Same way we respect the OGs, we want it both ways. So when you do hear that, that means something,” Curry said in the show’s latest episode that is set to premiere this Thursday.
Gary Payton: The younger guys always say, “Well, in your era, you guys couldn’t do this or that.” If that’s the case, I wish you could come to our era and play in our era. I wish we had a time machine so that we could put them in our era and see how they would fare. Sometimes, they say, “Well, you couldn’t play in this era because of the shooting and scoring!” Well, when we were in our early 20s, we were pretty athletic and dominant too; that’s why you know about us. It’s just changed. You can’t put your hands on guys. The league is about scoring; they want you to score and they want to run up the points, so it’s entertaining. In our era, we were talking about locking guys down. We were talking about beating you up. We were talking about putting you on your back if you tried to come in the paint and dunk. We wanted you to think that you may get hurt every time you came in the paint. You know what I’m saying? Now, that will get you a flagrant or get you kicked out of the game and they may even suspend you after evaluating it. We didn’t have all of that. We’d put you on your back, they’d look at it and then you’d go on about your business. It’s just so different.
"You ever heard of the term cooking the books? That's what [big-man analytics] are to me," Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal says. "'Oh, our company is doing great. We're doing this. And we're doing that,' when actually it's a bulls--- company. "My contention is that if a big man comes in and wants to dominate, he can dominate -- and easily. Because we have shifted away from physicality, teams don't know how to play [that style] anymore. "If the right big man comes in, it'll be back like the old days, where he will be a guy you've got to change your defenses for."
Brown insists he hasn't abandoned using Embiid in the post and claims his goal is for him to have at least 15 touches a game from there. That's a fine strategy for the Sixers, but the 29 other teams do not have a Joel Embiid at their disposal. "The numbers don't support their skill set," one NBA general manager says about big men who live primarily in the post. "They're DOA -- dead on arrival."

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While speaking to Craig Melvin on "Today," Jordan was asked if he would amend the list of players he said would be unbeatable in a pickup game back in 2013. Jordan said he wouldn't, sticking with Hakeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen and James Worthy on the list. "So, Steph Curry shouldn't be offended when he watches this," Melvin asked. "I hope not. He's still a great player. Not a Hall of Famer yet though," Jordan said. "He's not."
Isiah Thomas: 30-25 my playoff head to head Rec vs the best players to ever play the game! The only small player who has done that! @BR = BS Reports #backtobackchampionships #finalsmvp #finalsrecord #Badboys #letitbeknown @DetroitPistons #not47 #winningstillcounts
Westphal, a five-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA guard who spent the late 70′s as one of the NBA’s most dynamic players, loves the game of basketball. He’s careful to make that point. He’s not trashing the game to make some grand point or pump up his own era. He just thinks things have gotten a bit... generic. “The styles are all the same now,” he told me. “You spread out, you run a pick and roll with the slowest defender, and put a couple of shooters in the corner. You don’t have individual teams with an offense that’s different than somebody else’s offense. It’s become too cookie cutter and too reliant on the 3.”
Still, he has a point. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, and Westphal clearly misses the nuance that his pre-3-pointer days afforded (Westphal was in the NBA for six seasons before the league created the 3-point line). He’s also careful not to cross the line of bitterness. He’s not angry that the game has changed. He’s not stomping his feet about anything. He just doesn’t particularly enjoy things as much as he thinks he could. “I love basketball, but I think the pendulum has swung too far to the three point line,” he said. "I’d like to see more of a blend of inside, outside, fastbreak, more styles.
Daryl Morey: “We put all our assets in to trade for him, but no one could anticipate he’d be the best player in the world.” Jackson Dahl: “Why did you put all your assets? Why him?” Daryl Morey: “So both the eye test, because he looks amazing, I think anyone who watched him [would agree]. If you looked at data at the time, once he had the ball in his hands – and it’s still true to this day. And I get a lot of [expletive] because someone asks me ‘who’s the better scorer? [Harden] or Michael Jordan?’ And it’s just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan. Based on literally you give James Harden the ball and before you’re giving up the ball how many points do you generate, which is how you should measure offense, James Harden is by far No. 1 in NBA history. And he was No. 1 even at the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s just he was coming off the bench, it was a little more hidden. So you needed good data to sort of suss that out.”
“I don’t really think they care [about the past],” Hall of Famer Earl “The Pearl” Monroe added. “There are some guys who come out to our events and they understand. I remember when LeBron came out, he had a pretty good appreciation for the guys who played before him and the history of the game. He’s always been that way. But now, you have other guys who are 18 years old, 19 years old or 20 years old and they haven’t really [learned the history]. All they know is [what’s taught to them] by their AAU coach. They don’t know how the game used to be played. There’s no appreciation for the history of the game.”
“What I hear through the Retired Players Association is that the younger players really have no idea about the past and the history,” Hall of Famer Dave Cowens added. “Yesterday, Caron Butler made the distinction between young baseball players and young basketball players. Young baseball players from, say, the Dominican Republic know who Roger Maris and Willie Mays are. I don’t know if today’s young players from Europe know who some of the [legends] are, especially if they played in the ’60s and ’70s. You wonder why that is, in a game with far fewer players than baseball or football? But that’s just the way that it is.”

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Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan was asked which streak is tougher to accomplish as a player – and didn’t miss the opportunity to point out his own greatness. “I’m very proud of how both guys have done because they’re making their mark for the league, and I think it really helps grow the league. Which is harder from a player’s perspective? Six championships, by all means.”

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Jordan's infamous competitive drive made him the GOAT then—and would do the same in today's LeBron James- and Steph Curry-dominated NBA. "He would somehow find a way to beat you—somehow," Perdue says. "I'm not sure how. He's not sure how, but he would stay up weeks to figure it out."
Perdue says MJ's persistence seems to be the differentiating factor between him and LeBron—the latest, and perhaps most promising yet, challenger to Jordan's GOAT throne. "You see LeBron say: 'I'm playing hard, I averaged a triple-double, I'll sleep well tonight,'" Perdue says. "I don't think you would ever hear those words come out of MJ's mouth. "Even if he had 60, [if] he lost and thought somebody had got the best of him, he would be pissed."
Where do you think this team ranks all-time? JaVale McGee: It’s a whole different era and a whole different type of basketball nowadays. You get there’s not a lot of physicality as there was back then. But still, I’ve seen the work that Steph [Curry] put in behind the scenes. The way he has to get open in games and the way teams guard him in games, he still gets points…it’s amazing. And being there seeing KD working and him lying to people, telling people he’s 6’9” when he’s 7’.
Adam Lauridsen: Kerr on chatter about Warriors' place in history: "We're just trying to beat the Cavs. They're a great team. We know that."
“I’ve seen all the teams from Bill Russell’s teams to now,” Thompson said. “If they go 16-0, with the season they have and the personnel they have, to me, they would be the greatest team in history.” In other words, Thompson will not represent one of many former NBA luminaries to boast superiority about their past teams over the current Warriors. “I better say we’d win because Magic [Johnson] would have me exiled from L.A.,” Thompson said, laughing. “But this Warriors team is legit. They can beat anybody.”
For all those former greats turned hot takers, Steve Kerr has your back: The Warriors would have no chance against any of the great teams of the past. “They’re all right,” Kerr said at Friday’s shootaround in advance of Game 4 of the NBA Finals. “They would all kill us. The game gets worse as time goes on. Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the 50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.” Kerr is, of course, talking with his usual healthy dose of sarcasm.
“It’s kind of comedy to me,” Curry said Friday. “The hypothetical game is never one I’ve played. I don’t want to be in that situation where you’re having to argue that. “Every team that talked about it was great in their era, great in their time. It was great for the league, inspiration for up-and-coming hoopers like myself watching that type of competition. It’s our time to do that now too.
Do you see any comparisons between the 2004 Pistons and teams today? Sheed: “Oh, we’d run through them. Not even close. We play defense.” Mike Brown compared the defense of today’s Warriors and that Pistons team. Do you agree? Sheed: “I’d agree to a certain point. But I think the Warriors’ defensive strategy is, I’ma put up more shots than you. And if you try to match that, then you assed out because they got exceptional shooters. “So that’s their whole defensive thing. I don’t call it good defense if the man came down and he shot a jump shot or shot a three and missed it, and the Warriors went back down to the other end and scored it.
Dennis Rodman: “And people like Anthony and all you guys, stuff like that, that’s called pressure, man.’ That’s pressure. Especially in New York. They want to win in New York; they will never win in New York. They’ll never win in New York. I’m just saying. Even though he’s a great athlete, great player, he’ll never win in New York. And it’s a great city, though.”
Before the Warriors’ Wednesday night game in Phoenix, Steve Kerr, who was teammates with Rodman in Chicago, could only laugh at the comment. “I saw Dennis Rodman was complaining about it,” Kerr said. “I got a kick out of that because Dennis was suspended for 15 games a year anyway. He’d have plenty of rest. (Went to) Vegas or Wrestlemania. He took a night off whenever he wanted so he can’t complain.”
Durant then shared the following story: "We played in Vancouver, first game in a Warriors uniform. And I see James Worthy walking out as I was leaving the game ... it's a legend here. 'Big Game James.' I didn't get to see him play but I just know all about him ... I'm a little skeptical at this point to even talk to anybody from the generation before because I don't even know how they feel about me as a person, as a player because these dudes -- they look at me as like, 'Oh you switching teams, you chasing this, you chasing that.' So I'm just gonna keep it moving. "But he was like, 'Man. Don't worry about that stuff. People change jobs every single year, every single day. Don't worry about that. Just go out there and keep working and go win.' So I'm like, 'Man that's nice.'
"So I came back home that night and my boy Randy -- I was like, 'Man. James worthy was cool. He showed me so much love. I appreciate that.' He (Randy) was like, 'Huh? He was talking so bad about you on TV. He was saying Magic wouldn't have done that. I wouldn't have done that...' "Yo, stop selling out. Stop selling your brothers out. This is a fraternity. Stop selling us out ... stop doing that man, and then come in my face talking that nonsense. I was really fooled with him."
For those players, today’s game isn’t so much a game as it is a scrimmage. Or, as Isiah Thomas recently called it: “Straight summer league.” Thomas was talking about how many points he would average if he played in today’s league. “Crazy numbers,” he said, modestly. “When you come down on a 3-on-1 fast break and pull up from the three-point line, it’s like straight summer league,” he said. “I was good in summer league. If you saw some of our barnstorming games, we would be doing that type of stuff in the NBA right now.”
“This game is global, man. Do these people know where this game started? I’m from the 70s and 80s and we weren’t worldwide,” Gervin told USA TODAY Sports. “My playoff games were tape delayed. To say that this league is not where it should be, to me, being a part of the league, is insane. We’re all over the world, man. The only game that was really all over the world was soccer. Now we’re all over the world competing against soccer. So that tells you a lot, man. We’ve got guys in this league that are from all over the world. When I played, I don’t know if we had anybody from any (other) country.”
“People have their opinions, man, but I pretty much deal with facts. Factually, this game is the best that it’s been. We look at sponsorship, we look at branding, we look at the television, we look at the new collective bargaining agreement. Come on, man — we’ve come an unbelievable way with this game.”
Q: What about this thing with LeBron throwing the water bottle. Did it bother you, and not necessarily as the Knicks coach but as a former player? Jeff Hornacek: “Yeah, I mean you can have the old-school respect for the game. The guys now are playing the game where they’re having fun, and if that’s something that they’re having fun doing … You know all that would do for me as a player is the next time you play them that should jack you up and get you ready to go. I don’t know if there’s enough of those players in today’s game that take any stock in that, but that’s how we would approach it … Everybody looks at it differently I guess.”
Here is what Barkley said about the Warriors: “Maybe I’m old school, but I’m never going to like that little girly basketball where you have to outscore people. I’m biased against girl’s basketball. I love (UConn women’s coach) Geno Auriemma. I love women’s college basketball. I don’t want it in the NBA.” Kerr was asked his thoughts on the latest Barkley criticism: “We didn’t talk about it. But it’s getting to the point that I feel like if our whole team walked in front of Charles’ house he’d yell ‘Get off my lawn!’ That’s how I feel about it.”
“If you were 0 for 8 five years ago or even seven years ago from the 3-point line, your a– might get cut,” Isiah Thomas said through a lament-filled laugh. The Hall of Fame Detroit Pistons guard added, “They’ve completely twisted the boundaries in terms of what an acceptable shot is in our sport.”
Still, as the latitude for even role players has grown, the “standards for what great shooters are have completely dropped,” said Legler, who when he was with the Washington team in 1995-96 shot .522 from 3-point range, attempting about four 3-pointers a game. “People like Brent Price and me had to lead the league in 3-point shooting to have a green light. Now it’s eight or nine guys per roster,” he said. “You’re considered this gunslinger if you make three of nine now, because that means that guy is worth 250 3-pointers a season. If I shot less than 38 percent from there when I played, I wouldn’t have been on the floor or in the league very long.”
He said the acceptance of the long-distance gunner is less about the evolution of the game and more about team executives and coaches who rely on analytics that say the quick 3-point shot is more effective than the conventional, walk-it-up 2-pointer. “This is the first time in our sport you get no credit for institutional knowledge,” he said. “We live in an age now where we are bombarded by more data than any society that’s ever existed on this earth.”
Van Gundy says Thomas is right about the “lack of variety” in style of play now. But he disagrees with him about the value of analytics. “I think we simply had people that came in and made coaches think on a lot of different levels about a lot of different things. They had strong beliefs, and sometimes it made you go back and re-evaluate. The biggest thing is, it’s a players’ league. And it’s picking the right players. The Warriors get Curry and then get Draymond Green, who can play on the perimeter. Then they get Andrew Bogut for interior defense and more passing. They put the players around Curry that allows him the freedom to become who he is now.”
Now that he has delivered Cleveland its first championship in 52 years, James said his chief motivation is catching or eclipsing Jordan as the best player ever: "My motivation is the ghost I'm chasing. The ghost played in Chicago." Armstrong, now a player agent who represents Derrick Rose, has some advice for James. "Chasing a ghost is in make-believe land," Armstrong told ESPN.com in a telephone conversation. "That's far-out, that's unattainable, that's something you can't achieve. This ain't no ghost. If you want to do it, there's a blueprint. It's possible. There's only one way to get there. It's not possible for him to do what Jordan did because the circumstances are different, everything is different. What is possible for him is to be bigger than every situation that's put in front of him, to dominate every situation that's in front of him.''
Storyline: Old School vs. New School
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August 15, 2022 | 2:00 pm EDT Update
There are over 2,000 people piled into Room 6BCF of the San Diego Convention Center at 10:30AM on a Saturday morning and Zion Williamson wants—no, needs—them to know he belongs here, too. These folks got up early on the busiest day of the biggest multimedia entertainment expo of the year to make sure they got an all-but-guaranteed seat for this event: a Comic-Con panel dedicated to Naruto, the long-running manga/anime franchise. And while Williamson is easily the most famous person in the room, he’s aware that most of the fans aren’t even there to see him.
Williamson talks about Naruto with the same reverence with which other NBA players talk about the Bible—it brings comfort and clarity in equal parts. Over the course of this past year—an unusually tumultuous one in his otherwise starry career—Naruto was his north star. Naruto launched in Japan in 1999, the year before Zion was born, and quickly became a phenomenon: these days there are some 250 million copies in circulation. The animated adaptation launched in 2005, and has remained similarly popular even since. Naruto inspires the sort of fandom that leads people to don elaborate cosplays, and to tattoo themselves with its iconography. Williamson is not the only athlete who’s a fan (UFC champ Israel Adesanya is another notable), but he is, so far, the only NBA player to build an entire sneaker collection around his love for the franchise.
Getting in shape won’t be enough—the Pels need him to stay in shape. They need his dunks to come when the clock is running, and preferably over the heads of other All-Star-caliber players. One person who doesn’t seem concerned about any of that is Williamson. Basketball is what he loves. And he never feels pressure when it comes to doing what he loves. Whatever weight his shoulders bore over the last year seems to have lifted. “I had to come to a realization,” he explains. “No matter what the world is saying, I have to remember that I am who I am and stay true to that. That’s what Naruto did, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The estate of Zeke Upshaw, a rising basketball star who died on the court while playing for an affiliate of the Detroit Pistons, has reached a settlement of wrongful death claims with the minor league team, DeltaPlex Arena, and emergency responders, according to federal court filings in Michigan. Upshaw played for the Grand Rapids Drive, a G League team. He collapsed and died in March 2018 from cardiac arrest in the final minute of the team’s final game of the season.
August 15, 2022 | 1:39 pm EDT Update