Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Memo To David Stern

The NBA should mandate that pure point guards be the highest paid players in the league. Watching a game involving Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, and even TJ Ford and Chris Paul is infinitely more entertaining than a game involving a lesser point guard. The ball and player movement that takes place on teams featuring these guards is so much more fluid and entertaining than games featuring more shot oriented point guards. If the market significantly rewards the pass first play maker over shoot first pg then younger players will begin to emulate the Nashes and the Kidds rather than the Iversons and the Francises. With more pure point guards, games will be more exciting, the product will be better, and league/team revenues will increase thus negating the increase in pg salaries. It's a no lose scenario.

I understand that perhaps pure point guards can't be manufactured. That there is an inherent skill and talent in seeing the court a certain way that can't be taught. That no matter how hard a talented guard may try, he simply can't duplicate the way Nash weaves in and out of traffic constantly looking for the open cutter. This is certainly an intriguing argument, but I believe (albeit with no empirical or anecdotal evidence to back me up) that players as naturally gifted and talented as a Marbury or an Iverson, if indoctrinated at a young age, could do everything that a Jason Kidd does and more. But the shoot first guards developed their games playing a lot of pick up ball, where a combination of lack of cohesion and their natural talent led them to play one on one basketball, breaking down the defense and generally looking for their own shot because they could get it and make it the vast majority of the time. And they were rewarded by that style of play through accolades, respect, tall tales, recruitment to college, and for the most talented, the NBA. Just as Iverson was hitting college recruitment age, the NBA had moved into a game dominated by isolation offense and individual matchups. Players like him were (and still are) a much sought after commodity, so other players surely couldn't be faulted for developing and patterning their games similar to Iverson or Michael Jordan.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing Iverson, or Francis, or Marbury. They have been very good basketball players over their career. Iverson will most likely end up in the Hall of Fame and did lead a marginally talented team to the NBA finals. My point is that those 76er teams were not that much fun. Sure Iverson could put on a show individually, but I did not get the same sense of excitement watching that team as I do watching the Suns, Nets, and yes even the Jazz.

The NBA is a copycat league, so the best thing that can happen is for the Suns to win the NBA Championship. Then every team will be looking for their Nash and players realizing that will try to change their games accordingly. Many at higher levels will not be able to do that as it's tough to teach old dogs new tricks, but if more younger talented ball players try to emulate Nash and Kidd the NBA will be much better off in the future. Plus you won't have those cranky blue collar middle aged white guys lamenting over all those selfish thugs playing basketball anymore. That alone is well worth it.

1 comment:

Jimer said...

Good post. Almost journalistic. Agree with everything but the statement that the NBA is a copycat league.

The NBA of all of the professional leagues is the least copycat. You often have teams with many different styles of play doing well in the playoffs, comparison point San Antonio vs. Phoenix.

Anyhow, while we are on the topic of the NBA, I pose the question if a choking, two beer queer wins the MVP award and nobody is there to see it, did it really happen? What a joke. As Stephen Adolph Smitz would say, "Der Junge ist Müll."