You smell death before you see it; so say the enlightened.
Basketball has been a dominant part of my life since I was a 5th grader--which was, I think, during the Nixon administration. I love basketball but the NBA is in trouble. The Denver Nuggets, and their style of play, are polluting the essence and beauty of basketball. The Nuggets are demonstrating an alternative method of playing basketball that isn't basketball. What they present as 'tough' defense isn't defense: It is the systematic, calculated abrogation of the rules, descending to thuggery. What's it is the conceptual framework, you ask? It's easy: Officials can't call every foul, so I'm going to foul 100% of the time, knowing that I'll inflict a lot of pain before I'm disqualified." This approach, as presented by the Nuggets, violates the spurt of the game. Basketball is a physical, contact sport. There is no place for cheap fouls, shoving players in the back during dribble drives ignoring good defensive principles and saying, I"m going to f-you up because 'that's how we roll.' I coached and taught for 18 years. My standard mantra to young players was: "Watch the NBA for entertainment, not to learn to play. What the Denver Nuggets do-- and, is reinforced by some analysts (not Van Gundy, who, I think, is remarkable in his insight and his iconoclast stance) in equating 'man-hood' to 'physical play.' I struggle with this nexus because of how young players will 'hear' and respond to such commentary. The dominant learning style of this generation of young players is visual. so what they see on HD, becomes an emerging reality as they develop their games. It is, therefore, the responsibility of persons like Barkely, Smith, Miller, et al, to impugn this style. Andersen, Smith and Martin do not prove they are 'men' through their willingness to intimidate with cheap fouls. That is exchanging the truth of basketball for lie. These players have willfully chosen a style of basketball that hurts the game. Every guy in the TNT/ESPN studios-- at least the former players-- should 'call-out' Martin, Smith and Anderson for their play-- in the context that 'young players should not emulate this.'
The Nuggets denigrate 'real' basketball to 'fantasy' basketball. The reality is this: Denver is a lousy defensive team-- instead of truly defending and playing 'help,' they want you to be afraid of the flagrant foul. It is my hope they are not rewarded for this approach.
The real game that people play--and love-- isn't a video game. For years, Rasheed Wallace was portrayed as the 'poster child' for what's wrong with the NBA. I never understood that. Wallace was always one of my favorites. The difference between Wallace and Martin (and, Smith/Andersen) is that he is a polished player with real skills--who also played tough and physical defense.
I don't want the NBA to die. I grew up sneaking into the Sports Arena to watch Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, so I know the game is amazing. It simply must be protected from its enemies.