ever since the pistons won the championship with the bad boys, NBA coaches realized that it was easier to coach defense than it was to find or develop players who had real basketball skills. in other words, it's easier to coach someone to deny passing lanes then it is to teach someone how to drain turnaround j's. it's easier to teach someone to box out on the defensive boards than it is to teach someone how to dribble the ball effectively. please notice that it takes a great more deal of athletic skill to hit the j and to dribble the ball than it does to deny passing lanes and crash the defensive boards. as a result, we get a game devoid of athleticism and skill and one full of people not scoring. if i wanted to see people not score, i'd watch soccer.
don't get me wrong, the pistons play unbelievable defense, and i'm not saying that any schmuck could do what they do. but i do think it's fair to say that i could come a lot closer to playing good defense than i could to playing good offense. bill simmons, of espn's.com page 2 wrote a niece little bit the other day about this, and i'll just quote him to clarify my point
Sure, the purists appreciate the defensive rotations, the way Detroit protects the rim, how Bowen fights through screens and everything else. But we're headed in a dangerous direction and have been for 3-4 years now – at the highest level, the good defenses are too good, and smart teams (like the Pistons and Spurs) have figured out how to use bumping/bodying/clutching/grabbing to their advantage. So that puts the game in the hands of the referees, the vast majority of whom range from "mediocre" to "impossibly incompetent." Other than the Phoenix games, this entire playoffs has been one long continuous foul/non-foul followed by someone complaining about what was/wasn't called. What's fun about that?as simmons implies, athletic talent and skill have taken a back seat to brute force and chicanery. take allen iverson. when he drives the lane, every team just mugs him , because they know that they can get away with it (which by the way, is a testament to iverson's greatness, that he can still put up 25+ points a game despite getting bodyslammed about ten times a game). i'm really not sure why the league hasn't done anything to restrict the contact that players make near the basket. because you can be physical without fouling, which is exactly what teams like the pistons and the spurs do. they play good defense by fouling you repeatedly. and the crazy thing is, you can be physical without fouling, i've seen it. i've been watching basketball since i was seven. teams like the celtics and the 76ers played extremely physically, but they managed to do it without the hacking that you see today.
Anyone who maintains this is "good basketball" comes off like a film school grad expounding the merits of a Todd Solondz movie – yes, we see your point and respect it, but the bottom line is that major movie studios aren't paying the bills on Todd Solondz movies...
now i fully admit that i might have G.O.D.S. (good ol' day syndrome), but i challenge anyone to watch the lakers of the eighties, or the celtics, the cavs, the hawks, and the nuggets of yesteryear, and tell me that today's basketball is as entertaining as it was in the eighties and the nineties.
what irks me the most however, is that this crappy (and basically illegal) style of play has been defended with an extremely specious argument (similar to an argument i made about the new england patriots earlier this year), the pistons and the spurs play "real" team basketball, as opposed to other teams that rely on a superstar, which somehow is reflective of a more moral paradigm of how we should live our lives in regular society. actually, it's a little marxist if you think about it. each to his own ability...the good of the collective over capitalism...not that i think capitalism is all that great. anyways, from my point of view, the pistons don't play team basketball more than any other team. how many assists per game did they average during the season? 21.8, good for 12th in the league, and virtually the same as the league average (21.3). how many players for the pistons averaged more than 10 points? 4, meaning that there are 23 teams that have more players averaging more than double digits (i know, i knoow, i should calcualate the standard deviation for the each teams scoring average per player, but i don't have the time or energy...incidentally, the correlation between # of players scoring over 10 points and winning percentage of a team is -.313. in other words, the more that the load is shared, the worse record a team is likely to have).
i know there isn't a good statistical way to keep track of team defense other than points allowed, but it seems to me, that the pistons are a middle of the pack team when it comes to one team measure and way below the pack on another. that's not to say that the pistons don't play like a team, but like pretty much any other team, they have a few guys who do most of the scoring, and everyone else pitches in however they can. the pistons are no better, no worse than other teams at being a "team". the fact remains, is that their players are alot more talented than the collection of talent on other teams. everyone knew kobe was going to fail, despite him being a top 5 player, because he had a big bunch of no talent ass clowns around him. same with iverson, same with even the mavs. the pistons have more talented players. any talk of them being greater than the sum of their parts is socially constructed bullshit created to fit some goofy hippie commune vision of society. actually, what it is is trying to construe the pistons as morally superior to other teams instead of physically superior. they are physically superior to other teams, morals has nothing to do with it. they're not any more selfless than the utah jazz or the sacramento kings.
like i said before, the point is not to bag on the pistons. they're a great team that plays crazy defense, and if this series is played 10 times, the pistons probably win half of them. my point is, however, is that basketball is not as fun to watch as it used to be, and that it has reached a point where it's almost unwatchable as evidenced by this year's finals. the second point is that the idea that winning via "teamwork" is a dumb myth. and some day in my life, i'll figure out how it's connected to race. cuz make no mistake, it most certainly is.