NBA Sports

Has NBA Gone too Soft?

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Written by Peter Walken

Basketball is a sport like any other. It is highly competitive, filled with strong emotions and, often times, aggressive. But things are changing in the NBA world, and this change has been happening for a long time now. Players are being penalized for the smallest of outbursts. They are being kicked out of their matches for minor physical contact and this, according to many, is ruining the sport. As Shaquille O’Neal put it: ‘NBA was soft during my era, current era is very soft’.

Step up Your Game

Shaq was an unstoppable force during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. A four-time champion, Shaquille O’Neal was so physically powerful and dominant, that he changed the pace of the game for everyone. Because they couldn’t stop him in the paint, Shaq’s opponents resorted to keeping the center on the free throw line as much as possible.

The game was changing. Other teams had to step it up and counter Shaq with a more aggressive game of their own. There were a lot more hard fouls, especially when he was in the free-throw line and the center had to deal with this kind of play on a nightly basis. Double or triple teams were doing their best to stop the seven-footer, all of which resulted in the game being tougher and more aggressive.

The Golden Times

Shaquille O’Neal openly admitted that in comparison to Michael Jordan’s golden years, his era was actually soft. Furthermore, in comparison with his era, todays basketball, according to Shaq is even softer. Here’s a quote of what Shaw had to say for Wall Street Journal:

“It was actually kind of soft when I played, too. Before I played, that was the real NBA, and I’m sure the guys that played before me would say that’s the real NBA. But before I came in, with Mike playing against Detroit and the Bad Boys- that was the real NBA. I kind of played in the soft era also. And then of course, with me being dominant, everybody crying about the rules, that just made it more so. But now, it’s very soft.”

This is all very true. Today, referees don’t let things go very far as far as physicality is concerned. What was a technical foul in Shaq’s era, is now something very much different. Hell, they were even more so in Jordans or in Magic Johnsons time.

“Don’t Even Touch Me”

What is now shouting, was once fighting on the court floor, something you will get kicked out for in today’s basketball. Then, a player might not even get ejected as the foul call were completely different. A perfect example of that was in Eastern Conference Finals when Boston Celtics Robert Parish punched Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer. He wasn’t kicked out of the game, he didn’t even receive a technical.

It is true that during the showtime era, the LA Lakers we’re facing a huge amount of foul play and aggressive physical contact. Even Byron Scott, the head coach, had received some hits from the opponents. And all that was basically a part of the game.

Come Back Shaq

Shaq really hit the spot with what he thinks of the current state of NBA. Once it was a physical game with tons of physical contact and foul play. That’s what made it interesting and, above all reserved for those who can truly withstand the pressure. Also, it made for extremely interesting and entertaining games.

Yes, today we can witness a foul or two from time to time, but basketball is arguably no longer the physical sport that it used to be. It is much more about the finesse. But, This doesn’t stop us from enjoying it, and believing that things are about to change. So, don’t stop following your favorite teams, get your NBA tickets and roar like you’ve never roared before. Maybe, just maybe there will come along another Shaquille O’neal.

About the author

Peter Walken

Peter Walken is an independent editor, an award-winning writer, and an editorial consultant. He is currently a contributing editor at News Examiner, where he has worked as a senior editor.

3 Comments

  • It has definitely gone soft, but I am not so sure it is a bad thing. The game is definitely quicker and more fluid but much of the intensity is gone, so there is that.

  • “The first year, they took my hand check away,” Rivers recalled. “The next year, they took our forearm away. And then, I retired. I was done. I was like, ‘I’ve got to move my feet? I quit. This is no fun anymore.'” This explains it all, and don’t tell me it’s not supposed to be taught. If you don’t like contact sport – go and watch tennis!

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