A little feedback regarding my comments on the NBA as the game is played today. One described the NBA this way: " Big guys lumber down the court and let go a 3-Point shot. Other big guys go the other way and do the same thing. This is i nterrupted only by a turnover which usually results in a dunk. The above is periodically interrupted by fouls, poor free throw shooting and trash talk.” Not exactly an endorsement.
Not everyone agrees with my take, however. One asked this: “What would the great players of the past say about today’s game? What does Bob Cousy think? Oscar Robertson? Jerry West? Walt Frazier? Willis Reed? Kareem? Magic? Larry? Michael? Yes, some of those played after the ‘three’ came in. Would they embrace the trey? Seems to me Oscar would be licking his chops and saying, 'This is just one more thing that I can do better than everybody else, so sure, bring it on. If the league average is 35%, I'll make sure to shoot at least 42%. Along with my usual 90% on FTs.’ Aren't most players going to say that the trey gives them previously-unimagined routes to "showing my skill-set”? And guys like Curry are gonna say that that peggin' em in from 28 feet is easy-peasy. What’s not to like? ”
A semi-dissenter answered on the fact I mentioned John Wooden and Red Auerbach in one post: “How would Wooden and Auerbach have dealt with the 3-point shot? We don’t know.” I’ll just say this: Wooden opposed a shot clock and Auerbach ripped the idea of keeping track of ‘steals,’ saying “A guy can try for 10 steals and give up 9 baskets making a bad play but get credit for the one time he intercepts the pass. ”
Then, of course, I’m wasting my time on all of this. They will NEVER eliminate the 3-point shot. But the ‘outside’ shot has always been part of basketball, even before they installed the 3-point line. In my home state of Illinois, at the high school level, we had fantastic outside shooters: Don Ohl (Edwardsville); Bill Small (West Aurora); Jim Bredar (Salem); Billy Ridley (Taylorville); Harv Schmidt (Kankakee); John Paul (Elgin St. Edwards); Charlie Brown (Chicago Du Sable); Bobby Joe Mason (Centralia); John Tidwell (Herrin); Mannie Jackson (Edwardsville); Dave Tremaine (Evanston); Art Schwarm (Evanston); Dave Downey (Canton). And that’s just from the 1950s.
I used to call the outside shot the ‘can opener.’ You needed the outside game to break zone defenses. You also needed balance on offense: inside game, outside game, middle game. The ‘old’ game used the entire offensive area and not just threes and dunks. In my opinion, it was a better game, a more interesting game, a more complete game. It required more skill, decision-making and complete players. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
(Foto John Wooden da growingleaders.com)