The game has been evolving ever since it was invented. In its inception there was an actual basket—a peach basket to be precise—and when a player made a shot, someone had to climb up a ladder and get it out. You couldn’t run with the ball. Dribbling hadn’t been invented yet.
Then someone came up with the brilliant idea of cutting a hole in the bottom of the basket and letting gravity do the work. Imagine how long it would take if every time someone made a shot you had to get a ladder in today’s NBA! Needless to say, that sped up the game.
Next, someone came up with the idea of dribbling. The game sped up even more.
The game evolved more, and giants like Wilt Chamberlain dominated the game, so they widened the lanes to speed it up. Then they widened it even more.
When the three-point line came into play, it spread out the court, allowing perimeter players to have more influence, and accelerating the game even more.
But as much as the game was speeding up, it was still very physical. A player could get wrecked going into the paint. It was the price you had to pay. That combination of speed and physicality defined the 80s to mid-90s as a particular era in the history of the game.
Hand check rules, flagrant fouls and the like have softened up that aspect of the game, but there are players who have an attitude that would have worked then. They are throwback players in a modern era.
Some of these players are stars today, and some are just role players, but each of them would feel more at home in a previous generation. They play a game that has an 80s flavor. They are devoted to defense and do not shy away from the physicality of the game.
Here are two players from each position, one over 30 and one under 30, who would feel at home in the previous age of the NBA.