One of the biggest debates in the NBA community is about the old generation and the modern NBA stars. Fans of the old guard believe that players from the 80s and 90s were superior because they were able to find success in a much difficult era.
On the other hand, there are others who believe that players in the modern NBA have to work harder and be more innovative with their style of play because they need to come up with new moves in order to stay ahead of the curve.
One person who believes the modern NBA players are a step behind is former player and head coach Mark Jackson. Jackson was a good player during his career and was the head coach of the Warriors when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson ascended to superstardom.
He noted that while players in the NBA today are more athletic and better suited for a high-flying game. But they lack the smarts that players like him and that of his era had. He believes the current game doesn't require players to be as intelligent and innovative as the players in his era had to be.
“Today’s players are certainly more athletic, more skilled – shooting, handling – and more versatile. The one thing that they are; they’re not as smart. Because I didn’t have the athleticism, the quickness, the explosiveness, I had to become smarter than everybody else on the floor. I studied the game at seven years old, at eight years old, I knew inside out whatever situation you put me in, I knew how to respond. It didn’t mean I had the answer, but I knew what the answer was. I don’t think because these guys are so athletic, so versatile, so explosive, so fast, I don’t think they have to lean on the same smarts and understanding that we had to growing up. It’s a credit to how far they’ve come as basketball players, but now you have to match the talent with the smart.”
Jackson's comments come as no surprise. He recently picked Kobe Bryant's mentality over LeBron James' basketball IQ.
On top of that, he had high praise for Kobe and Michael Jordan, saying that they were the only players willing to leave everything on the court to get the win. So his preference for the bygone era becomes clear with these comments.
Jackson's points cannot be applied to current NBA players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul, as they are in their twilight years.
But at the same time, Jackson's comments are proven wrong when we look at players like Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic, who are not very athletic but still find a lot of success thanks to their respective intelligence and their ability to manipulate the ball and their respective opponents.
Regardless, these comments will once again spark the debate about the old and the new generation of the NBA.