Your Morning Dump… Where Bill Russell believes comparing eras is ‘just not practical’ | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Your Morning Dump… Where Bill Russell believes comparing eras is ‘just not practical’

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Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

Many of you probably saw this column from last weekend:

Let’s start with the truth. The 3-point shot was created for people who couldn’t play basketball. It was made for people who couldn’t grow tall enough, dribble well enough, drive hard enough or move fast enough. […]

The 3-pointer has become as dull as the intentional walk, and any competent player in the NBA can make a 3. There is no special skill to it. Some are better than others just as some are taller than others or more agile than others. They do not get an extra reward for being so. This is nothing against those who do it well. The concern is how easy it has become and how it has altered the game.

Chicago TribuneRoutine of 3-pointer dulls the senses, and makes basketball duller

As the, ahem, most seasoned member of the Red’s Army team, I often comment on Celtics history and how the game was played back in the day. I’ll admit to being old enough that I saw the Celts play, in person, while Red Auerbach was still coaching (his final season was 1965-66). So I have a lot of respect for the players that paved the way for the NBA of today.

With that said…

The column above out of Chicago is probably the hottest hot take in the history of sports punditry, and by that I mean the worst and stupidest commentary ever conceived. This guy’s absurd premise is that NBA basketball has become boring because today’s players are too good at shooting. Or maybe it’s that they aren’t good, since he says making three-pointers is so easy. Obviously, he blames Steph Curry. The column is all very confusing – probably because, again, it’s idiotic – but the essential message is that today’s NBA isn’t worth watching compared to yesteryear.

Guys like this piss me off. They’re so stuck in the past that they can’t appreciate today’s game or, specifically, what the Warriors are accomplishing this season. Lately, there’s been no shortage of old-guy bitterness and bravado. Oscar Robertson got it started. Then Walt Frazier took a turn. This week, Charles Barkley weighed in a couple of times. All Hall of Famers, all who “know better” than today’s players and coaches how to stop the Curry Warriors.

To be fair, such thinking is not a one-way street. Many younger fans don’t believe the players of the past could compete with today’s stars. But how do they know? There are no HD highlights from the ’60s, no advanced stats, and not even basics like how many shots Bill Russell blocked when he revolutionized the game.

I’ve seen blogs and tweets from current commentators and fans who, for example, dismiss Wilt Chamberlain’s 50 points per game – 50!! – in 1961-62 because he physically dominated his competition (hmm, just like Steph does now, although in a different manner). I’ve seen John Havlicek, who scored 26,000 points and won eight rings, left off an all-time top 50 list. Even ESPN didn’t include Sam Jones (10 rings, scored 47 in game 7 of 1963 ECF) when they recently ranked the top 10 shooting guards of all time.

A current popular theme is that Curry has made nearly as many threes in the past two seasons as Larry Bird did for his career. Never mind that the style of the ’80s emphasized post-ups and fast-breaking for layups, instead of today’s league average of 24 threes per team per game. Larry was pretty good, and in today’s NBA he probably could keep up:

The point here is that the game constantly evolves. The rules, coaching strategy, training methods, travel conditions, officiating – everything about the NBA has changed as the years have gone by. But the one constant is there’ve always been great players. Every era has superstars. No one benefits from trying to compare them.

Don’t take my word for it. Read what Bill Russell had to say in these comments published on NBA.com during the 2014 Finals. Russell is not only the winningest team-sport athlete ever, he’s highly intelligent with a basketball IQ that has probably never been matched. Listen to him.

While fans, media and even some former players like to compare great teams with other great teams from different eras, it’s just not practical. The game today is a different game than when I played or even when George Mikan played. For example, you were not allowed to play zone defense and today, everyone plays a zone. On the Celtics, we had seven players who averaged double figures. Today’s good teams have only three. In my 13 years, the Celtics never had a player who led the league in scoring. As a result, when someone retired, it allowed another player to step into that slot, which enabled for a high level of consistency.

It’s a different game, which requires different skills. So, I could not legitimately compare these teams today with any of my teams nor can I compare myself to any of the players today. It’s still called basketball but it’s applied differently.

While the game today may be different, I still have great admiration for today’s players.

On Page 2: Praise for Marcus

Smart has rebounded 4.7 percent of Boston’s misses this season, the second-best mark among rotation players listed at 6-foot-4 or shorter, behind only the scowling blur known as Russell Westbrook. Smart is a master at sneaking in from the weakside corner for put-back jams, and he’ll even fly in from someplace off your television screen to snare a Boston miss.

On defense, Smart is nearly impossible to screen on or off the ball, perhaps the most viscerally ferocious among a cadre of Boston perimeter defenders who can make it hard to throw one simple pass along the 3-point arc. The only way to pick Smart off: If he somehow doesn’t see it coming and slams right into it. And since he plays at a million miles per hour, those collisions come with a loud thud.

ESPNThe 2016 Marc Gasol All-Stars

Marcus was in the starting lineup of Zach Lowe’s guide to his favorite players to watch (not including all-stars, rookie phenoms or Warriors). As Celtics fans, we are told all the time that we overvalue our guys and get too attached to them. While that may all be true, obviously we enjoy what we see. Although Marcus sometimes overdoes it (see related links), he’s no doubt one of our faves. Lowe agrees.

Related: WEEIMarcus Smart Gets Message from Brad Stevens: ‘I Take Whatever [He] Says to Heart’ | MassLiveBoston Celtics’ Marcus Smart on fine for obscene gesture: ‘It’s in the past’

On Page 3: IT4, meet TB12

The two Boston stars are separated by four championships and a whole lot of success, but actually share some similarities. Thomas was the very last selection in the 2011 NBA Draft and won’t ever forget the doubters. Brady entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick with no expectations he would ever develop into a top-notch starter, never mind one of the greatest football players ever.

MassLiveBoston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas wants to pick Tom Brady’s brain: ‘I want to be on that path’

Isaiah may be a Denver Broncos fan, but he’s making the right move to ask for a sit-down with Patriots mega-star Tom Brady. They already share a bond: IT was selected no. 60, the final pick of the 2011 NBA draft, and Brady was famously chosen all the way down at no. 199 of the 2000 NFL draft. Both have been playing with a chip on their shoulder ever since.

Maybe they can start their conversation with Brady naming all six quarterbacks drafted before him. Don’t think he doesn’t know their names.

Related: GlobeIsaiah Thomas wants to pick Tom Brady’s brain

And, finally: Celtics featured in 100 greatest moments

Despite ranting above about player comparisons, I wanted fans to see the “100 Greatest Moments in Sports History” as chosen by Sports Illustrated. Why? The Cs have four of them, each one with a write-up and photo/video highlights.

  • No. 95, Bird of Prey (Larry steals the ball, 1987)
  • No. 89, A dynasty begins (Bill Russell joins the Celtics, 1956-57)
  • No. 79, An NBA Finals Classic (Triple overtime, 1976)
  • No. 61, “Havlicek Stole the Ball” (Playoff-winning steal, 1962)

The Rest of the Links:

ESPN BostonCeltics’ Jared Sullinger out of hospital after skin infection

MassLiveKelly Olynyk injury update: Boston Celtics big man ‘still sore,’ not sure he’s ready to play at high level

HeraldOlynyk shoots for return from shoulder injury | Celtics notebook: Time for Celts guard to Smart-en up

WEEICeltics Preparing to Take on ‘a Stud’ in Tony Allen and His Short-Handed Grizzlies

CSNNEFive NCAA conference tourneys Celtics will keep eye on | Celtics-Grizzlies Preview: Don’t overlook Memphis

Providence Journal – Celtics have leaders even if they don’t have a captain

Celtics.comHandling with Care: IT’s Perfect Start to March

Memphis Commercial AppealGriz star Allen revisits starting point in Boston

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  • Sean

    Shouldn’t the Rondo-TA fake on Lebrick/Running him out of Cleveland be on the 100 greatest moments list? No Pierce wheelchair return game?

  • art

    I don’t think that 3 point article is stupid at all. The 3 point shot has hurt the game because there are now so many of them. In the old days, you needed to make basketball plays all of the time and use your size and strength. Today it’s stand outside the 3 point line and shoot or wait for a pass and shoot. That’s not basketball the way it was meant to be played. When the NBA first added the 3 pointer, it was entertaining. Now it has become boring basketball. I would vote for a ban if it came to such a vote.

    • chuckmckenney

      Minimal skill required? How is shooting the ball from 23 feet away easier than from 15 feet away or 5 feet away?

      • Richard Jensen

        Requires a skill that I don’t recognize as a skill = ‘minimal skill required’

        • Curt Hays

          Remember back when you weren’t allowed to dribble? I bet @apaew:disqus didn’t consider how boring THOSE days were. Stop changing the rules!!!

          We have a game in which defenses can play zone–which forces more outside shots. We have a game with a restricted area which encourages more drives to the basket. How is that more boring?

      • art

        Players have different ranges. But it’s just shooting and often nothing else. It could have been a great basketball play to set up the 15 foot shot while the 23 footer is often a player who dribbles down the floor, stops, and shoots. And then awarded 3 if for a make. That’s bad basketball and it’s become way too common in today’s NBA.

        • Mike Dynon

          I’m not a fan of 3-on-2 fast breaks where wing men run to the arc. But the 3-pointer is a real weapon when used in halfcourt sets where the ball is moved inside and then back out. There have always been spot-up shooters. Today, they just set up farther away than before.

          • art

            The inside and out is very common today because of the constant 3 point attempts. No problem with spot-up shooters, Their shots should always be 2 points because hitting from distance should not be favored above all of the other aspects of the game of basketball. There are just too many skills involved in the game to reward those for this one skill for distance shooting.

          • RedsLoveChild

            For better or worse, the NBA`s offensive culture/value system has changed.

            1960`s & 1970`s : the “High Percentage” shot was revered. {Wilt`s finger-roll, Jabbar`s sky-hook}

            2016 : Curry`s “High Reward” shot is revered.

  • NE_Celt

    I have no issues with the 3-pointer; of course I am a younger fan who is more accustomed to them. I don’t think they make the game boring; however I will say the way Stevens has the team geared to run, work in transition, and get fast break buckets is definitely a lot of fun to watch. When they C’s settle behind the 3 point line I do get frustrated, but that is often because they are trying to shoot themselves back in the game. If we had the splash brothers shooting away from behind the ark, I wouldn’t be as unhappy with the 3’s. Overall I think the 3-pointer is great for the game, and it isn’t really the issue, I think it comes down to the NBA and how they have the officials call the games these days. Players cant be nearly as physical anymore, so doing all that work in the paint is tough, and that pushes them out to the 3-point line. It isn’t because players are too short, or not talented enough in the paint, it is the officials.

    And speaking of NBA’s rules and officiating, the one change that is really bothering me now is the travel call when a player makes an up-fake; seriously, what is the point of this call? It slows down the game by adding yet another whistle, and takes away some potentially awesome offensive plays because the defensive player bit on a fake.

    Also, the rumor for a 4-point shot to be added, whether this is for real or just a rumor, I am def against that. Seems I have heard more of that this year because of a certain Steph Curry; which is understandable. But adding a shot like that is just making the game into more of a circus show than an actual sport; which is how some of the more seasoned NBA fans feel about the 3-point shot I am sure. So that kind of brings into perspective some fans dislike for the 3-pointer.

    • Mike Dynon

      When Kareem was Lew Alcindor at UCLA, the NCAA banned the dunk. When the NBA was dominated by 7-footers, there was talk of raising the baskets to 12 feet. Overreaction isn’t new. I hope the 4-point shot remains just a rumor, because it would play into Curry’s game and make him even more valuable.

  • Richard Jensen

    L.P Hartley said it first: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

  • RedsLoveChild

    Russell is right when he says you cannot compare eras. The game is drastically different today than when he played. It`s almost unrecognizable.

    Russell played when “big men” ruled the sport, in what was basically a 10 team league. The key was to land a great center. If a team had a Russell or Chamberlain or Jabbar, that team was going to win 60 games by accident!

    Is the typical player today a better “athlete”?
    Absolutely, by a huge margin. They`re bigger, stronger, faster. It`s a fact, you cannot stop evolution.

    The NBA had low popularity in the late `70`s. The 3-point shot was enacted to “juice” the game. It was viewed as a gimmick in `79. It was a tool used by the weaker teams, to try to try to overcome deficits in the final minutes.
    Strong teams in the early years {Lakers, 76`ers} avoided it. They had “bigs”, they didn`t need it.

    The 3-point shot went from being a “semi-desperate option” for weak teams in 1980….to “primary weapon” for virtually every team in 2016.

    What irritates “old-timers” is that they see today`s NBA as little more than a 3-point shooting contest, and not a particularly good one.
    In 1996, teams shot 16 three`s per game, hitting 37% of them….in 2016, they`re shooting 24 three`s per game, hitting 35%.

    • Curt Hays

      This is one good reason to disallow zone defenses.

      • RedsLoveChild

        Allowing the zone—except for the defensive 3 second call— gives the refs one less thing to concern themselves with.

        They already have enough to deal with.

        • Curt Hays

          and that is one good reason to allow it! I don’t know what to think!!!