NBA players of past eras, including legends Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, have made some assertions about the quality of today’s game in which rules have been instituted to protect ball-handlers, and small-ball lineups and a steady digest of three-point attempts have become the norm for most teams.
Ever since the Golden State Warriors’ historical start to the season, they’ve become synonymous with the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, a team that steamrolled the NBA en-route to winning a championship to go along with their 72-10 record, the best regular season mark the Association has ever seen. Golden State hopes to replicate that success to a tee, and so far this season they’ve done that as the playoffs draw near.
The Warriors are currently on pace to surpass the Bulls’ record 72-wins, and the feasibility of them accomplishing that feat seems more and more likely with each passing game as they continue to rack up the victories. Although the Dubs are on the brink of the unthinkable, some former NBA-ers are unimpressed and feel as if they’re respective teams/era could and would humble the Warriors.
Here are a few quotes from former players regarding Curry and or the Warriors. The shade is real.
Oscar Robertson on ESPN’s Mike and Mike this past Thursday:
“I just don’t think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball. They don’t know anything about defenses. They don’t know what people are doing on the court. [Curry] has shot well because of what’s going on in basketball today.
“… When I played years ago, if you shot a shot outside and hit it, the next time I’m going to be up on top of you. I’m going to pressure you with three-quarters, half-court defense. But now they don’t do that. These coaches do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned.”
Cedric Ceballos (NBA 1991-2001) on Fox Sports Radio:
“Steph Curry, unbelievable shooter, but [Kevin Johnson] was a point guard’s nightmare because he was so strong and he loved going to the basket,” Ceballos told Fox Sports Radio, explaining why he believed his Suns team — which included Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, Danny Ainge and Tom Chambers — could beat these Warriors in a playoff series.
“That’s one thing these teams don’t do: they do not expose Steph and the way he plays defense. I don’t think we would have a problem with this Golden State team.”
Stephen Jackson (NBA 1997-2014, Golden State Warriors 2007-2009) on ESPN:
“My Warriors team would beat today’s Warriors team! I guarantee that,” Jackson said.
“We beat the one-seed. We beat the one-seed,” Jackson repeated.
Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers 1979-1991) appeared on ESPN First Take a few weeks ago and matched up his Lakers with these Warriors:
“We’d blow them out,” Magic Johnson said. “They’re too small for us. Too many mismatches. They wouldn’t want to see us…We’re the best of our time, and they’re the best of this time.”
“They would probably beat us with these rules, we would blow them out with our rules,” he declared. “Every time Steph cut to the lane, that elbow would be right in his mouth … remember you could check back thing … So they would probably beat us with these rules, we would beat them with our rules.”
Curry, the Warriors’ head honcho and the likely league MVP for a second consecutive season, admitted that he’s been irked by the constant bashing from the game’s forefathers, and he spoke on the situation during an appearance on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast.
“It’s starting to get a little annoying just because it’s kind of unwarranted from across the board,” Curry said on the “Warriors Plus/Minus” podcast by the Bay Area News Group on Friday. “We have a very competent group, and we have fun when we’re out there on the floor, and it shows, obviously.
“We enjoy what we do. But for the most part, you don’t hear us talking about, you know, comparing ourselves to other great teams and ‘We could beat this team, we’re better than this team.’ We’re living in the moment.”
Curry and the Warriors have every right to be taken aback and irritated by the statements undermining their team, and it’s something I struggle to comprehend as well. Today’s superstars have no issue respecting the game’s history, so why do the old-timers feel compelled to denounce one of the greatest teams we’ve seen in quite some time?
It’s hard to fathom what Curry and the destructive Dubs are doing, and Robertson’s suggestions are actually on the comical side. He makes it seem as if stopping Curry is a simplistic task that can be accomplished at the snap of a finger. Press up on him and he’ll slice-and-dice you with his tight handle then launch a demoralizing dagger in your grill as he jovially struts down the court. There’s no clear-cut solution here.
The aesthetics may not be pleasing to these former players who gripe about the quality of today’s league, but it’s important to respect what the current players in the NBA are doing to keep the league churning. Even after the hottest start in NBA history the Warriors still have naysayers, I wonder if the barking will stop if they surpass the Bulls’ record and capture another NBA championship.
Only time will tell if that revelation materializes, but doing so would only solidify this Warriors team as one of the greatest squads in league history, regardless of what former employers of the Association may have to say about that.