It's funny what perception can do for an era of basketball. Time changes things and you don't even realize what you had until it’s gone.
Bird and Magic, amazing. Celtics and Lakers, two of the deepest and greatest teams ever. The Showtime era in the NBA really put the NBA in the spotlight. Let's be real, it was magic. No pun intended.
Meanwhile, the side story of the 80's was the emergence of Michael Jordan. Jordan was nice enough to not start trying to win titles until the 90's. He alone attracted fans and pushed the NBA even further into the spotlight.
However, it became a huge problem when Michael Jordan retired, because David Stern had put all of his eggs in one basket. The NBA lost countless fans that just became uninterested.
10 years later, you still have nostalgic pundits reminiscing about the good old days, and how the NBA still isn't what it used to be. Whether about the 80's or 90's, you have folks stuck on each era.
Well, snap out of it! It wasn't that good.
Let me tell what is good. The NBA today is good. The greats in today's game rival and surpass any era we've had thus far. It's basketball evolution.
Since Jordan retired for what should have been the last time (1998), we have seen the best power forward of all-time (Tim Duncan), arguably the best peak center of all-time (Shaquille O'Neal), and the 2nd best shooting guard of all-time (Kobe Bryant). We've had two dynasties intertwined with each other.
Now we are seeing Chris Paul play better than any point guard ever has. Statistically he is right there. Can you argue that?
We have LeBron looking like he will be considered the best small forward of all-time within 5 years.
We have true centers like Dwight Howard and Yao Ming dominating the paint again.
Kevin Garnett? It's been a long time coming for him. No 7 footer in history has his skill set, athleticism and coordination. He is a guy you will regret not appreciating when he is gone. Trust me.
How about Amare Stoudemire scoring in a way that would make Charles Barkley proud. How good is a guy who can score 25-30 points on around 60% from the field? Oh, and he shoots over 80% from the free throw line. You can't just hack him.
You can't ignore the international takeover either. They are too good to ignore. Dirk has his shortcomings, but the guy is amazing. Ginobili has given fits to just about any team who has had to check him in an important game. The league is filled with highly skilled foreigners. It's great for the game too.
I can't even shout out all the talent in the league, there is too much.
Then you have the Pistons and Jazz, who lack MVP candidates, but still can compete with anyone on any stage. For the people who don't like superstar-based basketball, there are pure execution-based teams for you too.
Now we have our greatest players playing on our greatest teams. That is the icing on the cake. Great games are brewing and historic performances are upon us. Legacies are being made as we speak.
Please don't take for granted how great of an era this is for the NBA. Don't get caught fantasizing about how great it used to be, because I guarantee as soon as 2010 rolls around, it's going to happen again.
People will remember how great Kobe and Shaquille were together.
Duncan will retire and nostalgia will kick in.
Kobe will lose a step, and fans will be on YouTube looking at how great he used to be when he was dropping 81 on the Raptors.
Appreciate it now while it happens, and you won't have to later. I promise you, it's better that way.