Draymond Green and Tracy McGrady decried the changes in the NBA’s defensive rules that have made basketball ‘softer’ over the years.
It’s easy for a new fan to scroll through stat sheets and news reports for old NBA games today. It’s about as easy (if you have the time) to watch some classic hoops – especially from the Michael Jordan era onwards.
Despite such ease of access to information, there’s a big faction of basketball fans who believe the game was more diluted back then. Now takes like these are quite often a matter of preference. But in order to develop a real preference, there also needs to be a variety of experience.
A huge faction of newer fans don’t often tend to have that bit of nuance. Their basketball viewing experiences are limited to an era of offensive explosion. However, there’s also been a clear and obvious decline in the quality of individual defense being played.
It’s jarring to see how the NBA rule changes affected the game – especially through the mid- and late-2010s. That’s a big part of the reason why fans welcomed the rule changes made this past offseason.
However, there’s a clear gap in physicality between past eras and the current one. This means that simply comparing players from that era to this one using statistics fails to capture the true picture.
“Sometimes the score would be 75-76, and I’d have 30 of those points!”: Tracy McGrady on rule changes
Draymond Green is the foremost defender of this era. He’s also quite possibly the most intelligent on-court NBA player of all time. This is a player who’s set a standard of defensive acumen that will prove incredibly hard to beat in years to come.
Dray has had to develop a ton of those instincts because of the ways that rules have handicapped players at his position. The 2016-17 NBA Defensive Player of the Year believes the league has clearly become softer. He said as much in a part of his exchange with T-Mac:
“You just look at the game, right? Like, the way you played – all the hand-checking y’all had to deal with. A lot of guys get mad when the guys from before will say ‘Man, oh the league’s soft today!’. The reality is, the league IS soft today!”
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T-Mac added on to this statement with an observation of his own, from his playing career:
“In our era, the score was sometimes 75 or 76 – the final score. And I’d have 30 points! I’d have 35 points – of that.”