Time to Respect Today’s Greats
If you’ve lived long enough, the phrase “life isn’t fair” has probably passed by your desk on more than a few occasions. It’s a simple statement, but it holds a lot of truth. The world of professional sports is a much less serious aspect of most people’s lives, to be sure, but even in its own vacuum this particular phrase continues to hold weight – and plenty of it.
Life isn’t fair.
New players entering the NBA are fully expected to respect the greats from yesteryear – without question. Failing to do so will lead to a firestorm of criticism by the media that once covered those past legends through the ranks, while they were learning on the jobs themselves. Fans who grew up watching those greats will also retaliate against a current player that foolishly decides to break the line. Current players have to toe the line, publicly at least, because that’s how it’s always been.
But retired stars from years past are free to criticize the current group of players at will, and have no qualms whatsoever about throwing a jab or two or three.
Life isn’t fair.
From Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Charles Barkley to Scottie Pippen to Oscar Robertson and many more, players from years past have left no stone unturned when talking about today’s athletes negatively.
We’ve witnessed the old school contingent going after guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and it seems their new favorite target is reigning MVP Stephen Curry.
It’s understandable why. It’s a natural occurrence as we get older. We think back to our respective primes and look at today’s youth and our brows furrow in disappointment.
How many times have you heard an elder say the following (or something similar) in your life’s travels:
- Back in my day we had to go to an actual library, we didn’t have Google at our fingertips.
- Back in my day I had to walk (insert miles) to school or work every day.
- Back in my day I had to get directions before I left the house, I didn’t have a GPS.
The list goes on.
But it’s not much different than today’s NBA, where the greats take potshots at an alarming rate:
- Back in my day, we used to play defense. These young guys today don’t.
- If (insert current superstar) played in my era he would be a role player.
- If these same rules were applied during my era, I would never miss a shot.
Once again, the list goes on and on.
Four-time league MVP LeBron James has come under the gun from old school players and fans who grew up watching a different era of basketball more than most. The future Hall of Famer took exception with some of the criticism landing on Curry’s doorstep.
“Yeah, for me personally in my career I’ve done nothing but big-up the guys who paved the way for us,” James told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m respectful to all the guys who paved the way, the greats, guys who were role players, guys who were part of a championship team or was not. I’ve always been respectful, so it does kind of suck when you’ve got guys who played before us and paved the way for us (and) … they like to talk down on a lot of our players, saying, ‘Well if they played in our era it wouldn’t be the same.’
“I heard Dennis Rodman say if I played in their era, I’d just be an average player. Yeah, about me, that I’d be just an average player. And they say the same things about Steph. ‘If Steph played in our era, then we’d be more physical with him and we’d go at him.’ And it sucks because we’re just trying to carry the torch for the next group to come behind us.
“I just want to be able to leave a mark personally, and be able to leave this game, this beautiful game, when I’m done with it for the next group of guys. I’m never one to talk down on a group of guys. If they can play, they can play.”
Star players cannot control when they’re born. The only thing they can do is dominate the era they have the opportunity to play in. Nothing more. Nothing less. Constantly discrediting the current group of stars because the league cleaned up bush league tactics does a disservice to the game.
It also discredits the hard work needed to earn a roster spot in the NBA – much less become a star – which some may argue due the proliferation of AAU ball and international expansion is actually harder to accomplish today than in any other point in history.
We’ve all been guilty of this in one form or another. Sometimes the criticism is warranted. Sometimes it’s just a power struggle, not wanting to admit that a new group is doing it a bit … not better, but maybe a bit more smarter.
The basketball doesn’t stop bouncing because you decided to walk away or because you’re too old to compete. It will be interesting to see how the current batch of superstars act in retirement. Will they break the cycle and give the new generation props or will they resort to what the old guys are doing to them?
It will likely be the latter.
Is Chris Bosh Nearing a Return?
Miami HEAT forward Chris Bosh has been sidelined since the All-Star break dealing with an unspecified medical condition. While Miami has recorded an 8-3 record without Bosh in the lineup, his absence in the rotation throws a serious wrench into the team’s title contending plans. The fear around Miami was that Bosh was once again suffering from reoccurring blood clots, which forced him to sit out the final 30 games of the 2014-15 season.
However, the veteran forward recently released a statement stating that his current situation isn’t life threatening and offering a glimmer of hope that he may return to action this season.
“I know there have been many questions regarding my health and when I will play again,” Bosh said. “My situation this year has never been life threatening. I am feeling great and currently I do not have deep vein thrombosis.
“[I have been] taking every necessary step to make sure I am healthy for myself, my family and my team. I have been working out, training with the team, watching film of the games, walking through plays, and have attended home games despite not being visible to the public. I will continue to support my teammates in every way possible. I remain positive that I will be able to return this season. I truly appreciate everyone’s concern and support.”
Bosh, a 13-year veteran, has averaged 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 53 appearances this season.
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.