Recently, I was watching TV when I came across “Winning Time,” a documentary which is a part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series.
“Winning Time” chronicled the Pacers and Knicks’ epic playoff series in the mid-1990s.
As a kid who grew up just outside of Indianapolis, I was a huge Pacers fan and was one of the biggest NBA fans around.
Reggie Miller was the man, and I hated Michael Jordan, the Bulls, Patrick Ewing and the Knicks more than anything in the world.
Ten years later, I haven’t watched an entire 48-minute NBA game in two or three years.
“Winning Time” brought back memories of a time when the NBA was worth watching.
In 1990s and even early 2000s the NBA was entertaining. Teams played unselfish basketball and actually competed hard on more than just the offensive end of the court. The good teams took as much pride in defense as they did offense and it created exciting basketball.
These days if I flip on a random NBA game during the regular season, I am greeted by nothing but street basketball with absolutely no defense. That may be entertaining to some, but it sure isn’t to me.
Who wants to watch players run up and down the court firing up three-pointers or getting to the rim constantly with absolute ease? I’m convinced that with the amount of defense played in the NBA that I could average 10 points per game.
It’s dreadful to watch. These players are getting millions of dollars to put effort into only 50 percent of the game.
In the 1990s, when the Bulls, Pacers and Knicks were three of the best teams in the NBA, they won with their toughness. All three teams prided themselves on defense and doing the little things necessary to win games. If you went into the lane against any of those teams, odds were you were going to end up on your butt.
Dennis Rodman, Dale Davis, Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing used to make a living by being big men who put players trying to get to the rim in their place. These days guys like Kobe and LeBron get to the rim without a problem.
I’ll start watching the NBA again when teams get back to playing the game how it is supposed to be played.
The documentary also made me realize that the comparisons of LeBron and Kobe to Michael Jordan need to stop. Jordan was on another stratosphere compared to the stars of today. He played in a time when the NBA was full of great teams that actually attempted to stop the other team from scoring.
I hated Jordan as a kid, but it was impossible not to respect him. He is by far the best player the game has ever seen.
Jordan won six championships with teams full of role players. He made everyone around him better and without him the Bulls wouldn’t have won any championships, let alone six in the 1990s.
Jordan knew when to be unselfish and let John Paxson and Steve Kerr play the role of hero in the playoffs, but he also knew when he had to take the game over.
While Kobe and LeBron are without question the best two players in the game today, they have a long way to go before they’re on the level of Jordan.
The NBA just isn’t worth my time anymore. The brand of basketball played is nothing more than a pickup game played by elite athletes in big arenas. So as the NBA regular season concludes and the playoffs begin you can bet I’ll be watching baseball.
Alex Ross is a freshman sports communication major. He is the Scout assistant sports editor.
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