I have been a fan of the NBA since I was six. I remember sitting in my house and watching grown men play the game I knew I was going to play someday. I saw how physical the game could be with men getting punched in the face or even getting kicked in the stomach. My thoughts from watching them were, “man, those are some strong dudes. I want to be just like them, physical and tough.” I remember seeing Kurt Rambis, on a sports replay, getting clothes-lined in mid-air and getting back up like a “G.” I remember actually seeing Michael Jordan take a beating every game he played during the season and the playoffs, but he kept getting stronger and didn’t back down. This is what made him great. He didn’t cry to the ref because he was confident he would be able to handle whatever was thrown at him; look at how he fought Reggie Miller. He didn’t need the refs to take up for him. I loved the physicality that those men displayed every time they hit the court. Did people forget about how Pat Riley had the New York Knicks play? They were the main team in the NBA that had the rule that if anyone entered the paint they tasted the floor. Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, and even John Starks made sure that their presence was felt by giving a shot to the ribs or knocking someone on the floor once they drove to the paint. We also can’t forget about the toughness Indiana had with Antonio Davis, Dale Davis, Rik Smits, and Reggie Miller–who I mentioned before. Those were the best days in basketball.
During 2000-2006 players would cry to the referees and the ref would just brush it off with a look that seemed to say, “Just play the game.” They would let the game continue even when Shaq would give someone an elbow in the paint. Players just took it and dished it back. He was so big that it was hard to guard him, but guess what? Shaq didn’t win every game he played. In 2004, the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the Finals even with his physical play, which is why he has the nickname, The Diesel. Ben Wallace still played defense and helped his team win a championship. Big Ben Wallace never cried to the referees during the Finals about Shaq because he was physically and mentally tough enough to take the beating. NBA basketball was a battle, and that made the game fun to watch. This was a time when players could get close to the defender. Everyone had to work hard on either side of the ball. When Tyrone Lue hand checked Allen Iverson during the Finals in 2001, Iverson continued to play hard and still averaged over 30 points per game. Basketball was a game of toughness and athleticism, and sometimes players had to endure physical beatings along with losing the game. That’s the way I and many others were brought up and it’s sad to say that those times have changed and cry-babies now run the NBA, not men.
This version of the NBA can be categorized as the cry baby league. The refs are listening to everything players whine about to protect certain superstars, like LeBron James and even Blake Griffin. The defensive player cannot touch the offensive player at all. The defender is left out to dry on the court and the offensive player, especially if you are a superstar, can just run into the defender and draw the foul. The defender doesn’t even have to touch the offensive player and a foul is called. What kind of mess is that? LeBron James is the prime example. He will lower his shoulder while charging full speed down the court and bowl right through a defender, or my favorite, use his off arm while he is dribbling to shield the ball and push the defender out-of-the-way. I can’t just blame LeBron for that because other players like Carmelo Anthony do the same. The ref will then call a foul on that defender. How can you call a foul on the defender when the offensive player is doing most of the pushing and banging to get to the basket? If you are a true fan of the game then you will know exactly what I’m talking about. The rule is that you have to keep your hands straight up and slide your feet to get position on that player. But, when that defender does this and the offensive player runs into him, the foul call is on the defender. In the event that foul call is not called, the players will then cry about not getting “necessary” calls. My advice: If you can’t be physical then go play tennis or bowling because then you won’t have to worry about someone touching you.
The referees must not understand the rules because they get it wrong every time by anticipating hits or calling them after someone has whined. How much longer can fans of the game watch the league baby LeBron James just because he is supposedly “the best player in the league?” Shoot, I would be the best player in the league too if I could knock the defender out the way and shoot an average of 12 free throws per game. Then, when I don’t get the call I want, all I have to do is go to the ref and let him know that I need to get that call and then shoot another 10 free throws. Another example of players being able to sway calls is when Dwayne Wade got Lance Stephenson ejected for having emotion. He let the ref know that Stephenson did something that offended him. I feel like the only people who should be able to talk to the refs are the coaches. All of this crying to the referees needs to stop, whether it is about physical play or otherwise. It has changed the course of the NBA already and will make it unrecognizable for generations to come.