Every kid grows up shooting hoops in his driveway with a somewhat deflated basketball, bent rim, and a dream. This dream, like most dreams, doesn’t come true for the little boy who pours his heart into the game. For a select few, this dream does come true, and the hard work it took to make it come true is what the game of basketball lacks today. The dream of every young boy is to make it to the National Basketball Association, known to most as the NBA.
The lucky ones who get their shot at the league are certainly well deserving of the feat, but the overall persona of them once they are there is what needs to stop. It’s as if they totally forget everything they learned playing for their respective colleges. College coaches who do everything to teach their guys to play the right way and build their programs are becoming toll men who are receiving a little bit of time and effort from their players and handing them tickets to the league.
Once these players make it to the big stage, most of them just blend in and make their money. It’s the MJ’s, Russell’s, Bryant’s, and others who do more than just earn their pay: they change the game. Guys like these have their minds on championships instead of paychecks, and sadly guys like them are disappearing in a hurry. There are no Bill Laimbeers, Dennis Rodmans, Patrick Ewings, and Scottie Pippens around anymore who can’t rely on talent alone to get stuff done. Even in the past 10 years with guys like Ben Wallace, Tim Duncan, Metta World Peace (Ron Artest), and Kevin Garnett. These guys did the dirty work on both ends to help their teams win.
The rivalries that individuals and teams used to have are gone. There was no such thing as bandwagoning during that time –people would ride and die with their team. For example, the Lakers vs Celtics rivalry with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson is something that fans miss dearly. Those were two competitive guys who didn’t want fame or money, they wanted to win. The team element that the NBA possessed before technology is fading away, causing fans to cheer for individuals more than teams. Technology is something that is causing the NBA to become soft. One small thing a player says to a reporter can get blown out of proportion and cause people to have judgments about him that he can’t control. It’s also producing softer and softer generations of kids who will one day be in the league. These kids watch their favorite players and learn from everything they do, and most players aren’t setting a good example of how to play/be.
Kids think it’s cooler to get a few cherry-pick dunks rather than locking up an opposing team’s best player for a whole game. There are a lot of individuals who care more for themselves over their teams too and those players are the ones known for things other than championships once their careers are over. They just simply blend in and live rich for the rest of their lives. It is accepted for players to go through their careers thinking about the point per game stat more than winning.
There are guys who are proven to not be winners on every team in the league. Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and Derrick Rose are just a few who are self-centered and non-winners. Coaches love finding hidden gems that play both ways and keep their mouths shut, but there aren’t too many of them left. It’s unfair to the Kawhi Leonards, Matthew Dellavedovas, Avery Bradleys, and Tony Allens who don’t get enough recognition for their roles. Players like these aren’t as flashy as most and flashiness is what our generation is trained to judge guys on. If players aren’t cocky, flashy, or active on social media, then they aren’t noticed.
There is an environment that the current players are building that will be hard to change. It’s going to take a team like the “Bad Boys” or a Bird vs Magic rivalry to raise the competitiveness. Or maybe what it takes is that once-in-a-lifetime player to come along and make everyone else play to his level.
Lebron, Steph, and Russell are competitors who want to win, but it’s going to take another MJ to change the game back to the way it used to be.