Is The NBA Too Soft?

Is The NBA Too Soft?

FloHoops examines whether the post-"Malice at the Palace" NBA has gotten too soft as the league looks to protect its business.

Dec 14, 2015 by Joe Battaglia
Is The NBA Too Soft?
By Mohamed Mooncey

The hot topic in the basketball world at the moment is whether or not the current champion Golden State Warriors could beat the 1995/96 Chicago Bulls.

Former NBA MVP Charles Barkley certainly doesn't believe the Warriors would be cut out to face some of the NBA teams from the past. The 11-time All-Star thinks that Steph Curry and Co. would have been mauled by teams if they had played 25 years ago.

We would have just mauled them. You're not gonna let guys come off those picks. They changed the rules — it's kind of like the NFL where you can't touch the wide receiver. The defense is at a disadvantage...and a guy like Stephen Curry, who is amazing, you can't put your hands on him, you can't hand-check him. It's a totally different game.
Barkley's comments came in the same week as the 11th anniversary of the infamous "Malice at the Palace" in which a fight between players from the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers sparked a brawl between players and fans that stretched onto the court in 2004. This was the last major fight seen on the NBA hardwood. The incident sparked change as high ranking league office officials began plans to reform the sale of alcohol late in games, broaden in-arena and team security and implement a new fan code of conduct.

It has often been stated that the modern NBA brand of basketball has become too soft. Whilst no one is advocating reckless violence, many do miss the hard-nosed play between rivals. Changes in the rules such as prohibiting hand-checking, and the defensive three second rule has caused the sport to adapt into a new era of “space-and-pace” basketball where 3-point shooting is now at the forefront of team’s offensive schemes.

Kobe Bryant said in an interview, "It's more of a finesse game. It's more small ball, which, personally, I don't really care much for. I like kind of smash-mouth, old-school basketball because that's what I grew up watching. I also think it's much, much less physical. Some of the flagrant fouls that I see called nowadays, it me nauseous. You can't touch a guy without it being a flagrant foul."

Shaquille O’Neal even openly admitted that, in comparison to Michael Jordan’s golden years, his era was actually soft.

It was actually kind of soft when I played, too. Before I played, that was the real NBA, and I’m sure the guys that played before me would say that’s the real NBA. But before I came in, with Mike playing against Detroit and the Bad Boys - that was the real NBA. I kind of played in the soft era also. And then of course, with me being dominant, everybody crying about the rules, that just made it more so. But now, it’s very soft.
NBA referees have come under criticism, and rightly so, for some of the absurd fouls called nowadays. Perhaps the least threatening player in the league, Tim Duncan, was thrown out of a game for sitting on the bench and laughing (video below) and during game 4 of a playoff game in 2007 Amar’e Stoudamire and Boris Diaw were suspended for leaving their teams bench.

This video shows just how laughable some of the foul calls of the modern game are:

When teams such as the “Bad Boy Pistons” faced up against the bitter rival Boston Celtics it was watching two teams of grown men doing all they could to beat the other. Today, the top players befriend one another and often train with each other in the offseason. There’s no denying that the 2012 NBA Finals would have been far more entertaining if Kevin Durant and LeBron James were bitter rivals who hated one another, rather than players who meet up during the summer to work with each other.

The League is so strict on violence as they are wary of gaining an image for players being “thugs” and given the NBA teams are billion dollar businesses, it is understandable that they will take as many precautions as necessary in order to prevent players being injured.

Champion Gary Payton most succinctly expresses thoughts on how the game has evolved. The league right now is watered down basketball that is great for highlight reels of high-flying dunks and wild three-pointers, but for fans of the “old school” era, the sport of basketball just isn’t the same

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