A common refrain and complaint that many have about the National Basketball Association in recent years is that it is “too soft.”
They complain that the league has legislated out physicality, that it is too easy to score, and that players are too friendly and would rather team up with each other than compete against and beat each other.
That is hyperbole.
Every year, come playoff time, teams get more physical and defensive-minded, and it reminds us that NBA basketball is still for Grown Men Only.
One only has to look at some recent incidents for evidence.
The Warriors-Grizzlies Series Has Been Very Physical
The Golden State Warriors have been a paragon for what modern-day basketball is all about, which has opened them up to criticism from those who think today’s game is too soft.
One may have expected their series versus the Memphis Grizzlies, a young team that reminds some of an earlier iteration of the Warriors, to be nothing but finesse-oriented fast-break basketball where defense is de-emphasized.
Instead, it has been physical and intense.
In Game 1, just before halftime, Draymond Green committed a hard foul on Brandon Clarke, hitting him on his face and then pulling him down by the jersey.
Green was ejected from the game after being assessed a Flagrant 2 foul.
Draymond Green’s Flagrant Foul 2 from Game 1 of the Warriors-Grizzlies series will not be REDUCED, per @ShamsCharaniapic.twitter.com/lDKM9ST0Y8
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 2, 2022
Green has a history of committing dirty fouls and acts, and he is the antithesis of what many think today’s NBA is about.
In Game 2, the Grizzlies responded when Gary Payton II was looking to finish on a fast break, and Dillon Brooks fouled him hard, fracturing his elbow.
Brooks was ejected, and he has been suspended for Game 3.
Gary Payton II suffered a fractured elbow in GM2 after this foul by Dillon Brooks.
Steve Kerr: “Brooks broke the code.”
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 4, 2022
Just moments later, Green was elbowed in the face by the Grizzlies’ Xavier Tillman, and he had to go to the locker room to get stitches, as he had a cut near his right eye.
Later on, Ja Morant, the Grizzlies’ exciting young superstar, was hit in the face while going after a rebound, and he had trouble seeing out of his left eye for the rest of the contest.
He was still able to score 15 points in the final four minutes and change, which gave him 47 points for the game and his team a 106-101 win.
It’s Still A Tough, Competitive League
The NBA may be softer than it was in the 1980s and 1990s, and scoring may be much higher than it was in the 1990s and 2000s.
But the league still isn’t soft.
Scoring is up because teams play at a faster pace today, which is because of a change in coaching philosophies, and there is less physicality on the perimeter because of rule changes that were instituted in the mid-2000s.
But come playoff time, the teams that truly need to win still get down and dirty.
Fans can criticize LeBron James and Kevin Durant all they want for supposedly wanting to take the easy way out, but in Green, Morant, Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic (just to name a few) are uber-competitive men who want to conquer all.
Ever since 2008, the NBA has been in a new golden age.
It’s too bad many fans don’t want to acknowledge that.