Here’s an exciting new twist: someone who actually played in the NBA before the year 2000 deciding not to try and tear down today’s game out of some misguided sense of pride. In a recent article from the New Yorker, Indiana Pacers president and former Boston Celtics Hall-of-Fame legend Larry Bird says that he thinks with Steph Curry and the other quick guards redefining what range is, this might be the best era in NBA basketball … ever.
“It’s funny how the game has changed,” Bird continued. “And my thinking about it. I was really worried–back sixteen, seventeen years ago–that the little guy didn’t have a spot in the N.B.A. anymore: it was just going to be the big guards like Magic Johnson. But then players started shooting more threes and spacing the court, and everyone wants small guards now. Watching these kids play now, I’m like everybody else: Wow, man. They can really shoot! They have more freedom to get to the basket. The ball moves a little better. These kids are shooting from farther, with more accuracy. Now some teams shoot up around thirty threes a game. My era, you always think that’s the greatest era. But I’m not so sure anymore.”
That sound you hear is a million macho-infused former players crying out in anguish. Bird’s right, though, that the game is in a special place right now. Bird goes on to say that the game “evolves.” It’s inside a discussion on whether or not a 4-point play could ever come about. That’s where the game is headed.
However, you can also see the Pacers’ recent moves reflected in Bird’s comments. He moved toward a small-ball approach this year, despite resistance from Paul George. When Frank Vogel went back to his traditional lineups, Bird was displeased and eventually fired Vogel (which, by the way, was completely nuts). It’s clear that Bird’s somewhat fascinated by this new trend. But then, the Pacers drafted Myles Turner in last year’s draft.
We’ll see if this trend continues or if the rise of a young crop of great big men like Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis changes things. The Warriors can’t stay great forever … or can they?