NBA games are apparently not a feasible option in the Mamba's mind. Not today's games, he explained, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles: "It's more of a finesse game. It's more small ball, which, personally, I don't really care much for. I like kind of smash-mouth, old-school basketball because that's what I grew up watching. I also think it's much, much less physical."
It's hard to argue with what he's saying about the physicality, or lack thereof rather.
Referees seem quicker to their whistles than ever, but there are incidents in this league's past that make an overzealous approach to control justifiable, if not necessary.
Still, the quick chirps can seem a bit much at times, per Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Kobe says some of the flagrant fouls called these days "makes him nauseous."— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) January 21, 2014
It's not just the flagrant fouls that have drawn his ire, either. Bryant said the hand-check rule, introduced in the 2004-05 season, has made life more difficult on defenders and lowered the bar for today's offensive players, per McMenamin:
I like the contact. As a defensive player, if you enjoy playing defense, that's what you want. You want to be able to put your hands on a guy. You want to be able to hand check a little bit. The truth is, it makes the game [where] players have to be more skillful. Nowadays, literally anybody can get out there and get to the basket and you can't touch anybody. Back then, if guys put their hands on you, you had to have the skill to be able to go both ways, change direction, post up, you had to have a mid-range game because you didn't want to go all the way to the basket because you would get knocked ass over tea kettle.
Again, it's hard to say Bryant is speaking much other than the truth.
Still, it's interesting hearing one of today's stars singing the game-isn't-what-it-used-to-be tune. Of course, when you've played as long as Bryant has, your viewpoint would certainly stretch across different generations.
It's not like what he's saying here hasn't been said before.
Hall of Famer Charles Barkley voiced a similar sentiment earlier this season, although he held fewer punches than Bryant when asked how teams from his era would compete in today's league.
Should the NBA allow more contact?
Barkley's words shouldn't surprise anyone. Old-time greats always think their era was the best, and in this case, there's a rabid generation of hoop heads that would wholeheartedly agree.
As for Bryant, his comments have more of a shock to them. The era that he's knocking happens to feature some of the defining moments of his career.
The "back in my day" routine seems a tad premature for the five-time champion.
Then again, this is another reminder of how little time his day really has left. He's a lot closer to telling young players to keep off his basketball lawn that we'd like to admit.