Being 15 years old, a majority of the NBA games I watched live has been in this decade, this era. The post- Jordan era.
I remember watching the Lakers win three straight NBA titles back in '00-02 . They were my favorite team. I loved watching Shaq dominate in the post, Kobe's dazzling dunks as he slashed to the basket, Robert Horry's clutch shots, and Derek Fisher's and Rick Fox's great three point shooting.
I remember watching Iverson score at will against the best teams in the NBA. The way he'd make defenders look stupid with his amazing crossover. The way he would go to rim and take the hardest hits yet still finishing the play. I never worried about how much scoring titles he would win because he was unstoppable on the court and he was clearly the best scorer in the NBA(I still think he is, no disrespect to Kobe).
I remember watching the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest when Vince Carter put on a show. It was one of the most mind-blowing things I have ever seen. I use to envy his athleticism, his hangtime, his ability to make everything look so easy. I remember watching him constantly perform at a high level in Toronto and making me become a fan of the Raptors.
I remember Tracy McGrady putting on a show every night in Orlando. It was like he could anything on the court. He was an amazing dunker, he could shoot with the best of them, he could set a teammate for a open shot, he defend the other's team top perimeter player because of his long and athletic body, and the way he could score with ease. I heard the comparisons to George Gervin and that forced me to learn more about Gervin's game.
I remember watching the Mavericks and Kings all the time. They have great, high-powered offenses. Dallas had the sweet shooting of Steve Nash at point guard, the high-flying wing man in Michael Finley at shooting guard, and the high scoring big man in Dirk Nowitzki at power forward. I loved to watch their great shooting performances and the way they score 70 points by halftime. Sacramento had possibly be the best passing big men in NBA history in Chris Webber and Vlade Divac, the clutch play of Mike Bibby, the deadly shooting of Peja Stojakovic, and the best sixth man in the NBA in Bobby Jackson.
I remember when Jason Kidd was in New Jersey, and he took control of the offense and turned the Nets into contenders. He made Jefferson and Martin play at an All-Star level. He also prove to be the master of the triple-double(not LeBron). Steve Francis, Baron Davis, and Stephon Marbury showed the NBA that point guard could do more than just rack up assists and direct an offense. They expressed their explosive scoring ability on opposing defenses and they revived the combo guard position.
Don't think I forgot about Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. I still recall the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals when the Nets had a 25-point lead over the Celtics and Paul Pierce along with Antoine Walker brought the Celtics and they won by four points (Does that reminds anybody of the 2008 NBA Finals). I also recall Ray Allen leading the Bucks along with Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals against Iverson's 76ers. That seven-game series displayed the talents of two superstars in the making in Ray Allen and Allen Iverson. Both Pierce and Allen are prime examples of the new era of shooting guards with long wing spans, great shooters at perimeter, and players that can slash to the basketball at will.
Don't even get me started with the amazing post players I watched. From dominant big man who would always win titles like Tim Duncan to extraordinary athletic big man like Kevin Garnett to strong, undersized defensive forces like Ben Wallace. I know all about it. I watched young, up and coming big men like Jermaine O'Neal and Rasheed Wallace lead their team far in the postseason. I admired how more and more power forward learn how to step back and hit that 18 foot jump shot while still able to score in the low-post.
Yet now, in 2009, I see less and less of these amazing abilities with each passing day. Dwight Howard is considered by many as the best center in the NBA(I personally believe Yao Ming is the best center in the NBA) yet he has little to no effective ways to score in the post other than dunking, outpowered his defender, and on occasion he'll attempt a running jump hook. But that's it.
I see wing players like Josh Smith, who relys completely on their athleticism to succeed, without developing a consistent jumpshot or develop their dribbling and ballhandling skills so they can create easier shots for themselves and others.
I see players like Nate Robinson, who can score 20 ppg cause their great shooting and their ability to get to the rim but they're way too short to play point guard yet they never really develop quality skills to lead an offense effectively. They can't really considered himself a true combo guard because they can't play both guard positions.
The media these days sells the idea Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are clearly the two best players in the NBA. They're constantly debating and comparing the two. They are always putting their names up there with all-time greats like MJ, Bird, Magic, etc. The media just does this because they realize how popular Kobe and LeBron are among basketball fans and they see these two put up incredible statistics. They know the more they talk about these players, the more fans they will attract to game of basketball. They just want the money. And these idiotic and brainwashed fans doesn't see it and they are ready to compare Kobe to MJ or LeBron to MJ or LeBron and Kobe (so-called rivalry that the media hypes up) to Bird and Magic.
Ever since Jordan retired from the Bulls on 1998(which is the beginning of the post-Jordan), the media has been try to find the so-called next "Jordan". They looked at players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, etc. All players that are now being overrated by the public while people debate who's the best player in the NBA and who's the next great player. They are constantly being talked about by the media because they know how popular they are among NBA fans.
Think about it. Carmelo was always popular among basketball fans but no one considered him top 5 player in the NBA and very few considered him a top 10 player. Yet he has a great postseason and now people are ready to proclaiming him as the sixth best player in the NBA behind LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Howard, and Paul, and considering him as the best or second-best scorer in the NBA.
Maybe it just me but the NBA is the same NBA that entered the decade that it is currently heading into another decade.
High school players can't come straight to the NBA anymore because David Stern wants players to develop in college for at least one year. Rules are changing which seem to benefiting players driving to the basket so it makes players score easier. Officiating is getting worse with each passing year.
In the beginning of the decade, there were so many funny playoff commerials of players wanting a NBA championship. For example, there was one commerial where Jermaine O'Neal went a date with the NBA Championship Trophy and Larry Bird was telling him not to stay out too late.
Or when Gary Payton was outside the NBA Championship Trophy's house pleading his love for it and to get its attention, he throws a rock at the window and the window breaks and Payton runs away.
Or when Tim Duncan went to visit a psychologist to talk to him about how much he wants the NBA Championship Trophy and how jealous he is when the trophy goes to other players.
But now the NBA playoff commercials are more serious. It would some historic playoff moments or two players in the postseason having their faces spilt in half and have reciting them the same thing so it looks like their one person in the commercial. I like the commercials but they don't give me the same joy that the commercials in the past has.
I know we are entering a new era, an era that which seems will be dominated by point guards. I know change happens every time a new era strikes, but I believe the NBA is changing for the worst.
Many new basketball fans may not understand what I mean by when I say the NBA is changing for the worst. I mean, these days we see the NBA promoting superstars more than they're promoting championship contending teams. They do it because they know that's what will draw more fans to the sport. If there was a Laker-Cavaliers final, it treated as Kobe vs LeBron final. When was last time, we had a NBA Finals where people focused so much on the rivalry against the two stars players? Even in the 80s, NBA promoted the Celtics-Lakers rival more than Bird and Magic.
I mean, in the 2001 NBA Finals, it was a 76ers-Lakers final. Iverson and Shaq was arguably the two best players in the NBA. Iverson scored an NBA Finals high 48 points and Shaq scored 44 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Yet it was never Shaq vs Iverson, it was about the underdog 76ers vs the defending champion Lakers.
Or the 1994 NBA Finals, where the Rockets faced the Knicks. Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing were arguably the best two centers in the NBA at the time. Yet that seven game series wasn't about Hakeem vs Ewing, it was about the Rockets vs the Knicks.
Don't get me wrong I love the NBA. I will always love the NBA. They have produced so many great moments for me throughout my childhood. I just feel that the NBA is not the same NBA that I grew up loving and I think these changes may be for the worst.