I will admit that there are many new aspects of the NBA that I can appreciate. The new marketing techniques, merchandising, and even the evolution of the game (to some degree) are at an all-time high. In my day, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of merchandise, let alone merchandising on behalf of the league. It seems that today, every athlete is sponsoring some sort of product and there are at least a hundred commercials about it. I wonder if all the salesmanship has taken away from the focus on quality control of its product. I believe that the subtleties and intricacies of the game have faded away. The game was the equivalent of a well-played chess match not just a game of checkers. Allow me to explain.
I am of the school of thought that preaches less is more and the devil is in the details. The ability to manipulate great footwork and fundamentals is what I am referring to. Timing over speed. Premeditated as opposed to read and react. The war of attrition not words. This is what we used to refer to as the veteran game. Its not merely knowing the offense but understanding the basic offensive concepts of spacing, timing, and movement that allow you to work your offense into exposing your adversaries defensive inadequacies. This includes moving, with or without the ball, intelligent passing and meaningful ball movement, as well as, shot fakes.
The same standards are to be established on the defensive side of the game. Defense should set the tempo of the game by imposing your team’s defensive philosophies and not by trying to decipher what the offense is trying to do. Again, you are trying to expose what certain players or teams cannot do very well. This is accomplished by forcing players to utilize skill sets that they are not very proficient at. There is no reason to jump on a shot fake when your opponent has not taken a shot yet. If he is right handed, force him to his left all game long. When you are defending some one with out the ball, make sure you stay between that player and the one whom posses the ball. Force that player to move where you want him to move by beating him to where he wants to go. These ideas seem fairly simple but you would be surprised how many times these are being ignored.
That was only the tip of the iceberg, as I have not gotten any where near the details that are required to make these concepts work. This is the main reason why the younger generation can watch games from the past era but not give it its due respect. They have absolutely no idea of what they should be looking for. I don’t blame them. Some one would have had to teach them what to look for. A back door cut is obvious to see. What happened before, in order to make that dive work, is what I’m talking about. Did the offensive player take a step baseline then cut over the top of his defender, did the player whom posses the ball create that by faking the perimeter pass to force the cutter’s defender to be off balance, or both?
These details are what have allowed me to continue to play and be effective on pick up and adult league courts. These particular courts have traditionally been a reflection of what the pro game has become because, for most of us, it is what taught us how to play before we received any kind of formal training. These details are what allows me to express what all of us “old schoolers” mean to say about today’s game. Now I can’t be everywhere, but I will always make myself available to impart this knowledge to the following generation. They can only be as smart as we are willing to make them. Peace.