In addition to being arguably some of the greatest players in the history of basketball, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Kobe Bean Bryant and numerous others, all have something in common that is widely considered to be old-fashioned, yet still needed in today’s game.
Let me enlighten you: Modern ball players–at the collegiate and professional level–lack (yes, lack) a firm grasp of the offensive and defensive fundamentals of the game.
For those of you with your eyebrow raised and (there shouldn’t be many of you), I will explain myself in a second. But, before I do, allow me to mention that throughout their highly decorated careers, all of the aforementioned legends played with unbridled passion, ferocity, and resiliency fueled by a burning addiction to win at all costs. That being said, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this bad-boy.
I am the first to admit that superior athleticism is one hell of a plus; just ask LeBron James. However, the most crucial asset that a true warrior has while in battle is his general knowledge of how to be effective offensively (with or without his weapon), and of how to shut down his opponent’s offense, regardless of how potent it may be.
Allow me, yet again, to use Mr. James and his recent playoff performance to illustrate this point. “The King” and his “supporting cast”–as he likes to call that group of grown men who also play for the Cleveland Cavaliers–are loaded with offensive talent of an athletic brand. All throughout the regular season, Cleveland fans were awed by their home-team’s acrobatic, fast-paced (not including Shaq), run-and-gun style of offense. And on the defensive end, James mystified opponents with his uncanny shot-blocking ability and end-to-end quickness.
In fact, the Cavs finished poised and favored to snag the NBA title this year, amassing 61 wins with only 21 losses. (And then came Boston in the second round of the playoffs).
I don’t feel the need to remind readers of what happened between the two ball clubs, since massacres aren’t often forgotten. I will, however, acknowledge that Boston–who were described by all of basketball as being old and done midway through the season–is still fiercely competing for a championship, while the young members of LeBron and company are at home trying to figure out what happened.
Why? Well, the answer is theoretically simple actually. The Cavs took a beat-down because of their lack of fundamental play–period.
That circus act (which included wayward passes, poor-shooting, laughable defense, and non-stop turnovers) can only be the result of the entire roster’s failure to master the b-ball basics while in grade school or college.
But the Cavs are certainly not alone. Since the new school of NBA players stepped onto the hardwood, the game that once was a spectacle of unrivaled craftsmanship, elegance and teamwork, has devolved into a showcase for egomaniacal tattooed juveniles whose only credible talents are slam dunking and dancing on the sideline (you know who you are). What happened to shooting with proper form, sliding your feet on defense, dribbling with control, and moving without the ball? What happened to boxing out for rebounds, shooting consistently well from the free-throw line, and making crisp and calculated passes? Where have all the fundamentals gone?