Speaking to reporters following the Cleveland Cavaliers' 120-111 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, James came to the defense of the reigning MVP and expressed his displeasure with the way former NBA players have tried to belittle Curry's achievements and the style of play that has produced them, according to USA Today's Sam Amick.
I heard Dennis Rodman say if I played in their era I’d just be an average player – yeah, about me, that I’d be just an average player. And they say the same things about Steph, 'If Steph played in our era, then we’d be more physical with him and we’d go at him.' And it sucks because we’re just trying to carry the torch for the next group to come behind us.
While cross-generational comparisons are a great deal of fun to discuss, James has a point: There's no reason to cast aside the strides today's players have made because the game has shifted in a different direction.
In fact, James' case resonated so much that Rodman took to Twitter and apologized for his previous statements:
Dennis Rodman @dennisrodman
I meant no disrespect @KingJames. You're a great player. Comparing players across @nba eras is difficult if not impossible. @cavs3/10/2016, 8:16:45 PM
However, not all critics have made the same concessions.
The most famous recent example came in the form of comments from NBA legend Oscar Robertson, who went on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike and opined that Curry's success is the result of coaches ignoring the importance of defense (via NJ Advance Media's Randy Miller).
"I just don't think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball," he said. "They don't know anything about defenses. They don't know what people are doing on the court. They talk about analytical basketball and stuff like that."
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"He's shot well because of what's going on in basketball today," Robertson added. "In basketball today, it's almost like if you can dunk or make a three-point shot, you're the greatest thing since sliced bread."
It's undeniable that the NBA is less physical and more three-pointer-oriented thanks to modern pace-and-space trends and the ban on hand-checking, but that doesn't make Curry's achievements unimpressive.
Rather, the reigning MVP should be praised for finding ways to adapt and thrive given the way tactical approaches have changed.
|Stephen Curry's 2015-16 Season|
And as James noted, the best policy in these cases is to acknowledge past greatness as a reason for the game's continued evolution.
"I’ve always been respectful, so it does kind of suck when you’ve got guys who played before us and paved the way for us (and)…they like to talk down on a lot of our players, saying, ‘Well if they played in our era it wouldn’t be the same,'" he said, per Amick.
Debates like these will undoubtedly continue to rage on as generational talents continue to reshape the way fans, coaches and players view the NBA, but there's no reason they should prevent anyone from enjoying the game.
What Curry's doing right now is historic, and his 2015-16 season may go down as one of the most prolific individual runs the league will ever see.
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