As the NBA playoffs come to a close ESPN is advertising the league's best players on that half and half television commercial. LeBron talking on one side and The Big Ticket on the other.
We see these two superstars as jaw dropping athletes that combine strength with athleticism, smarts with skill. On the west coast we see a rising in talent from New Orleans with the emergence of super star Chris Paul and the leadership of MVP Kobe Bryant.
Growing up in the 90’s, I saw arguably the best player of all time in Michael Jordan. He continually led his team to championship after championship, with roll players like Scottie Pippen dominating as Robin to Michael’s Batman.
Then there were teams like the Utah Jazz, with that great offense and use of the pick and roll. Fans saw the intelligence that team had at all positions, especially John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Both the Jazz and the Bulls dominated the late 90’s continually battling one another for the top spot in the world of basketball.
The question is however, Do these teams survive in today’s talent loaded NBA?
I see the Spurs as today’s Jazz. The smart settled down offense. Never in a rush but always efficient. Players that know their role and perform game in and game out.
Tony Parker may be the league's most underrated point guard (yes he is mentioned as one the top but always lower than Deron Williams, Steve Nash, and Chris Paul.) I agree that Paul is a better player and the best point guard in the NBA right now, bust Parker must be mentioned.
The western conference could feature some of the greatest competition and overall depth and skill of teams that the NBA has ever seen.
The Lakers have a similar talent setup as the Bulls. Kobe is on a similar level as Michael, Odem (when he shows up) plays a similar style as Scottie Pippen, and Pau Gasol is just an added extra.
Would Luke Longley be able to survive in today's league against athletic big men like Garnet or Dwight Howard? I really do not think that he would average 11 points a game, let alone start. With Bynum the Lakers get even scarier due to the added depth of a developing big man.
Today’s athletic players are dominating the league. Shear power and smarts are no longer getting players points.
It is players like LeBron and Dwight Howard that make the league different today. Players are faster and stronger. They can jump higher and move quicker.
Did John Stockton really have more skill than Chris Paul? Would he be able to dominate on the offensive end in today’s fast paced offenses in the Western Conference? Could anyone stop Dwight Howard or LeBron?
These players are the faces of the NBA for a good reason. They combine their skills and athleticism with strength. They are extremely mobile for their size.
Does a 6-5 Charles Barkley take over games in today’s NBA?
Players are of a different breed today. 2008 vs. 1998 gives a victory to the 21st century.