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 Tribune – Routine 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:
Bird twice took 225+ 3’s in his career.. shot 40 & 41% those times.
Steph Curry hasn’t play a full season without taking less than 342
— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) March 8, 2016
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.
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.
On Page 3: IT4, meet TB12
I want to sit down and talk to Tom Brady… I need to pick his brain — Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) March 8, 2016
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.
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: Globe – Isaiah 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:
Providence Journal – Celtics have leaders even if they don’t have a captain
Celtics.com – Handling with Care: IT’s Perfect Start to March
Memphis Commercial Appeal – Griz star Allen revisits starting point in Boston