Players of the bygone era are not shy about criticizing the modern NBA. Players who played in the more physical era of the 80s and 90s feel as though the NBA has changed dramatically since the time they walked away from the game and allows players to thrive in a way that wasn't possible in their own eras.
One of these players is Dennis Rodman. 'Rodzilla' has spoken in the past about how easily he would average 20 rebounds a game during the current NBA era, citing the current generation's aversion to playing physical basketball. On top of that, he feels that the stars of today, including LeBron James, would not survive his era.
"I think I'd average about 20 rebounds, easy. The way they play today, they shoot the ball so fast and they shoot so quickly ... and even when I played I was getting rebounds against guys bigger than me, like 270, 280, and I'm like 6-6, 215, 220, and getting rebounds."
"Today, I'd be loving it because it would be so easy to get (rebounds). A lot of players today don't really extend their game to be physical."
"I don't think these guys would last. They complain going, 'Oh, I need rest.' You should have been back there in the 80s and 90s. We played like 96 games a year.
"And they're going 'Oh, my elbow hurts' and they're sitting out like a week. And these guys are making like $25 million a year and they complain about that? I'm like damn man. I wish we had that back then."
Rodman isn't the only legend to speak in this way. Even Michael Jordan said in 2013 that only LeBron James would not be as successful playing in his era as he is in the current NBA era.
Players like Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Gary Payton, and many others have mentioned how they would be able to dominate in today's game, and wouldn't break a sweat putting up numbers that the current generation's best are.
One person who doesn't appreciate these comments is former NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas. Arenas mentioned that these players always talk condescendingly about the current generation.
But players who are roughly their size now are looked at as undersized guards. He noted that older players don't understand the significance that the evolution of the game plays in how good a player can be.
"I'm starting to hate everyone in the 90s. You got Scottie and Rodman, both 6'7, 210, talking about they gonna stop somebody in today's game. In today's game, 6'7, 210 pounds, you are a little guard. They have no idea about evolution."
Most legends of the game cite the banning of hand-checking when it comes to questioning the physicality of the game, noting that offensive players have it very easy now, and defending just isn't as effective in the current game.
On top of that, they feel as though players who have adapted their game to become more perimeter-oriented are able to avoid the taxing physicality of their era's interior-heavy game, allowing them to put numbers on the board that might not have been possible in the 80s and 90s.
A lot of players and fans are resentful of these comments, mainly because it undercuts the progress the game has made, and the role of the players in said progression. The NBA has evolved to a massive degree and requires skills that players in the past never showed. To make it seem like child's play can come across as very disrespectful.