Point/counterpoint: College hoops are real basketball
All my life, I’ve been an avid sports fan. I watched most any sport that came on TV. One “sport,” though, stood out among the rest as being a joke to watch, something that I don’t consider worth my time. That “sport” is the “basketball” played in the NBA.
I’m sure any NBA fan that’s reading this is thinking, “here we go again. Why can’t people appreciate good athletes making good plays?” That is not where we disagree. The athletes in the NBA are impressive human beings. I’m not here to debate the abilities of the players. That stands on its own.
But the game. The GAME. How can that be called basketball? I stand by the NBA being little more than three things: dunks, three pointers and traveling. You ask, what’s wrong with dunks and three pointers? Aren’t those good things? Sure. I love to see a good sharpshooter, and I appreciate a big slam.
But when those are the only things you see in a game, they can get old. And traveling. It’s as if the NBA forgot one of the most basic rules of the game. You can’t move down the court without dribbling the basketball. NBA players get away with some incredible traveling. It impresses me every time I try to watch a game, and reminds me why I hate the NBA. A quick google search will show you times where players have taken eight steps and nothing has happened.
No turnover, no one bats an eye. Seriously? That’s basketball? James Naismith would be ashamed of what his sport turned into. “It’s a euro step, they can do that,” is my least favorite thing to hear defenders of the NBA say. So, you just made up a move that allows players to pick up the ball at half court and take a layup. At that point, you might as well remove dribbling from the game.
Another aspect of the NBA that appalls me is the utter lack of defensive effort. My counterpart in this argument, Justin Guglielmetti, will try and brush this off by saying that the NBA players are just too good at offense to defend. Let’s think about what kind of argument this is for a minute. Players get to the NBA by being good at the game. You can be good at offense, but you should also be good at defense. Why can you just brush off defense because you think you’re so good at offense?
There are examples of people playing great defense in the NBA. Players that actually try. One such player is Kawhi Leonard. I know, I know, I’m using the reigning defensive player of the year as an example. But look at what he’s done. In the NBA Finals, the biggest stage of the NBA, he shut down LeBron James. Shut him down. Let’s put this feat into perspective. LeBron James is arguably the best player of this generation. Love him or hate him, the man is a phenomenal basketball player. In his first stint with the Cavaliers, he singlehandedly carried the team to the NBA finals. There was no other significant players on that team, and he still took them that far. But Kawhi Leonard played good enough defense to nullify him. Looks like defense can be played in the NBA.
There are also plenty of players in the NBA who don’t play defense, and are only on the court because of their offensive production. Two examples that quickly come to mind are Carmelo Anthony and James Harden. Both of these players have been offensive juggernauts for years, but couldn’t be pressed to play defense at any time. Do another google search. You can find compilations of times that James Harden has let players walk past him to score layups. How is that acceptable? Sure, he can make up the points at the other end, but if he played defense he could score at the other end to take a lead. But hey, who cares about how much the other team scores, right?
Alright. I hope you understand now how bad the defense in the NBA is. Let’s move to the other side of the ball and break down the classic NBA game plan: give the ball to the best player. Move other four players to other half of court. Let best player take a step in, step back, and take a fadeaway jump shot. It didn’t go in? Okay, that was unlucky. Let’s let him do it again next trip down the floor. How is that offense? 80 percent of the players on the court are standing still. That’s not good offense, and it’s not fun to watch.
With the basketball abilities these players have that allowed them to reach the NBA, it shouldn’t be hard for them to move the ball around, play smart and come up with a good shot. The San Antonio Spurs have been known for doing this well lately, but they are the exception. The statistics back this, too. The top teams in the assists category in the NBA average around 24 or 25 assists per game. In college, the top teams average around 21 or 22 assists per game. With the NBA having longer games, these stats are effectively even. Since, as Justin will readily tell you, the NBA players are so much better offensively, why wouldn’t you take advantage of passing the ball around to get an open shot? I don’t think I will ever understand that logic.
With all of these issues on both ends of the court, I don’t see how anyone could consider the NBA to be better basketball. Justin, I’ll leave you to your broken attempt at a sport and watch the real thing.