Can the NBA players of the 80’s and 90’s defend today’s superstars?


After a short back and forth between Klay Thompson and LeBron James following Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Mychal Thompson expressed his feelings about LeBron James and how he wouldn’t last in the era of the 80’s.

These statements woke up a young Twitter spokesman/NBA player named Brandon Jennings. Not new to Twitter, Jennings never ceases to amaze us within his 140 characters. And although sometimes his statements are often outlandish, surprisingly this statement from Jennings is something I agree with.

The game is constantly evolving and it will continue to as the years go on. It has drastically changed since Thompson’s days, and even the 90’s, but even with the evolvement, can the players of the 80’s and 90’s defend today’s superstars?

I don’t think so.

Players today are something they weren’t used to back in those times. When I think about a physical specimen like LeBron James and an athletic talent like Russell Westbrook, it’s hard for me to think players back then could handle the superstars of today — freaks of nature that are damn near impossible to stay in front of.

Fundamentals of the game were and will always be there, but back in the day, players kept things to the basics. In just the aspect of ball-handling alone, the Kyrie Irving’s and Stephen Curry’s of the world would dribble circles around the defenders from the 80’s and 90’s… And then launch a three (that’s just where we are in today’s basketball).

Michael Jordan vs. Gary Payton
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

But the one aspect that’s on the former players’ side is physicality. Players from that time were used to hand-checking, which has been ruled out of the game and playing more intensely on the defensive end all together. They took pride in their defense, more than what we see today.

The thought of that makes the argument more interesting, but in the end, I believe the superstars of today still have the advantage. The talent level is at an all-time high and we’re seeing things done on the floor that we’ve never seen before. This is just another one of those “what if” moments that will never come to fruition, but it certainly does make you wonder.


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