When many watch the NBA today, they are amazed at how much the game has changed. The game prioritizes 3-pointers, is much less physical, and is much faster. In some instances, it looks like defense is optional in the league nowadays. Kevin Garnett was part of the older generation when things were more physical on the hardwood.
Despite being part of the more physical NBA era, Garnett saw how the NBA was changing during the twilight of his career. He’s a fan of the new NBA and the plethora of talented players that are a part of it. He even thinks his generation of players couldn’t last in this era.
The physicality between NBA eras is very different
It is no secret that the NBA isn’t as physical as it was back in the day. Part of the reason it is like this is because of the entertainment value. Although some might’ve enjoyed the physical aspect, it wasn’t entertaining to viewers. People don’t want to see pushing, shoving, and hand-checking. They want to see ankle-breakers, dunks, and a bunch of points.
Players see the difference in the physicality and take advantage of it. Simply tugging on a player’s jersey is a foul now, which players know. It’s no surprise that there has been an increase in flops these days. The physical nature of the NBA was different when Garnett was roaming the paint.
Garnett was known for being a tough and gritty player. His toughness showed itself more on the defensive side, being an anchor in the middle for his entire career. He averaged over one block and one steal per game, per ESPN. He is also one of the league’s best trash talkers, constantly chirping to opposing players, getting under their skin.
Despite being a part of the tougher NBA eras, Garnett is a huge fan of the NBA players and the league’s direction. “The game is at another level,” said Garnett, per The New York Times.
Kevin Garnett doesn’t think his era could last in today’s NBA
Another difference between the two NBA eras is the speed of the game. Back in the day, post play was more prominent, which slowed the game down. Many of the teams nowadays are prioritizing fast break opportunities and fast-paced action. Kevin Garnett notices this and sees this is something that the players in his era might’ve not survived.
“I want you to get on a court, sprint corner to corner, stop on a dime and shoot a 3. I want you to do 10 of those. Then I want you to focus on how tired you are. Because these players do that for 48 minutes. I don’t think guys from 20 years ago could play in this game,” said Garnett.
The physicality (or lack thereof) in the league has Garnett thinking old school players won’t last in today’s NBA. On defense, it is all about angles now, as players aren’t allowed to touch players without a foul being called.
“Twenty years ago, guys used their hands to control players. Now you can’t use your hands. That makes defense damn near impossible. Can you imagine not hand-checking Michael Jordan? Naw. The fact that you can’t touch players gives the offensive player so much flexibility. Defensive players have to take angles away and stuff like that,” Garnett said.
There could be some truth in Garnett’s statements. Unfortunately, we will never see if it’s true. Players of Garnett’s generation are either in retirement or finding a second wind with the Big 3. That’s fine with KG, as he’d rather watch the new school NBA players dominate.
Kevin Garnett loves the offensive creativity in the NBA today
Not being as physical did benefit the NBA. The players’ skill is on display more, a higher chance for a highlight play, and more player creativity. Players like Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, and James Harden have changed the game offensively. Their ability to be creatively offensively has catapulted the NBA into a new era.
“Steph Curry revolutionized things with being able to shoot it from distance with such consistency. Klay Thompson. Dame Lillard. These guards changed the game,” said Garnett.
Being creative on offense is almost mandatory for today’s NBA. Even though the defense is not as strong as the old days, they are still professionals. With Garnett being an elite defender, he knows how important being creative on offense is.
“If you have any creativity and ambition, you can be a great offensive player in this league. The fadeaways, one-leg runners, the one-leg balance shots,” Garnett said.
Garnett is an old soul but loves the direction of the current NBA. He isn’t sure if the players of his era could last in this kind of NBA, which is sure to ruffle some older players’ feathers. KG stands by what he says and loves the “saucy” era the NBA is in.
“I don’t know if even the guards from 20 or 30 years ago could play in this time right here. It’s creative. It’s competitive. It’s saucy. You’ll get dropped! A [expletive] will cross you over and break your A.C.L. these days. The game is in a great place,” said Garnett.