Count Oscar Robertson among those (read: everyone) who thought things were better back in his day.
As a guest on ESPN's Mike & Mike radio show Thursday, The Big O weighed in on reigning MVP Steph Curry and his Golden State Warriors, currently on pace to finish with the best regular-season record in NBA history. On the same day former Warrior Stephen Jackson insisted the 2006-07 iteration he played for would beat Curry's squad, Robertson expressed similar dispassion with Golden State's exploits.
"I think Golden State and some other teams play very well, but look at the game of basketball," he said. "They run one play. Well, maybe two plays. They've got a high-pick with the center, then the shooters run baseline trying to get open with blocks from the forwards. I mean that's it. You don't see hardly any reverse plays at all, no double screens, no weak side and whatnot.
"The pivot has gotten so bad now that during the All-Star Game, they don't even have (centers) listed. They have three forwards and two guards or three guards and two forwards."
The Hall-of-Fame point guard won his lone NBA championship playing alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the great centers of all time, so you can understand his bemoaning the decline of the position (and positionality in general). And while some would say the current state of the league is the result of the game's evolution, Robertson argues it's actually regressed.
"I just don't think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball," he said. "They don't know anything about defenses. They don't know what people are doing on the court. They talk about analytical basketball and stuff like that. ... I look at games today, and they'll start a defense at the foul line. When I played, they were picking you up when you got the ball inbounds. So it's a different strategy about playing defense."
Robertson feels this alleged ignorance about defensive tactics has particularly benefited Curry, who is hurtling toward a second straight MVP award while on track to obliterate his own single-season record for 3-pointers and carrying the best PER ever produced.
"He's shot well because of what's going on in basketball today," Robertson said. "There have been some great shooters in the past. ... But here again, when I played years ago, if you shot a shot outside and hit it, the next time I'm going to be up on top of you. I'm going to pressure you with three-quarters, half-court defense. But now they don't do that. These coaches do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I'm concerned."
- With h/t to NJ.com