Sports are always surrounded by controversy, as everybody believes they have the ultimate say on what may or may not have happened in a locker room, between players, or even on the hardwood.
Over the course of history, some of the greatest moments in basketball history, as well as the public persona of some of the best players in the world, have always been tainted with controversy, with the people taking one side or the other.
Naturally, we’ve heard the same arguments over and over and whether we like it or not, we can’t always be right with our opinions on some matters. That’s why today, we’re going to encourage some arguments and talk about the hottest NBA debates that will never go away.
10. Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson?
This one will go down to the wire for sure. On one side, we have the stable, long and peaceful Gregg Popovich era, a 20+ year tenure that has made the San Antonio Spurs an example of stability, developing a winning culture and being perennial championship contenders due to his out of the box thinking and great system.
On the other hand, we’ve got a guy that won as a player and then took a couple of franchises to the highest of levels and built two of the strongest, most dominant dynasties this game has ever seen. Popovich owns an 1197-541 (.689) winning record in the regular season with 167 playoff wins and 5 rings under his belt, while Jackson has won 2 rings as a player and 11 as a coach thanks to his triangle offense. Who you got?
9. What If Derrick Rose Didn’t Tear His ACL?
Derrick Rose had already become a star from the very first time he set foot on an NBA hardwood, dominating en route to a Rookie of the Year campaign and becoming one of the league’s most exciting players to watch. He was Russell Westbrook before Russell Westbrook. Clutch, strong, athletic, he was ready to take you to school every time he had the rock on his hands.
After leading the Bulls to the best record in the East, Rose fell down with a heart-breaking injury that eventually caused the team to be swept by the Sixers despite being the frontrunners to take the Championship home. But, what if he didn’t get hurt? Could the Bulls have won their 7th Championship? Would they have been able to stop LeBron’s reign in the East? Would he be able to win more MVPs?
8. Why Did Durant Leave The Thunder?
Kevin Durant became one of the NBA’s most hated players after he decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Dubs after they beat them in the playoffs, winning a couple of Championships and the same number of Finals MVPs in two seasons since making that decision.
Ever since, there has been a lot of controversies whether why he left the team, with even a reportedly burner account he owned stating that he was ‘never going to win a Championship with those cats’. Did Durant break the league by that move? Was that move soft? Did he betray Westbrook and the Thunder? Or did he make what was right for him?
7. Where Will LeBron James Play?
This one seems like a never-ending debate year in and year out. LeBron James has been known for his passive aggressive nature and for taking subtle shots at the Cavs’ front office every time he has the chance of doing so.
Now that he’s lost for the 3rd time in 4 years against the Golden State Warriors, he’s a lock to opt out of the last year of his deal, but… will he extend his stay at the Land? Will he take the easy way out and join the Warriors? Will he join forces with Harden and CP3 to get back at the Dubs? Will he trust the process? Will he be a Laker?
6. Who’s A Better Point Guard: Kyrie, Steph, Westbrook or CP3?
This one may not have a correct answer, as all of them are very different players that would definitely fit differently on any team, but that hasn’t stopped fans for going at it on social media on a yearly basis.
While Kyrie has the best handles and is perhaps the best scorer, Curry has proven to be the greatest shooter in the history of the game and such an underrated passer.
Meanwhile, Westbrook’s been known for stat padding but that has shown his ability to do a little bit of everything, with Paul being the “purest” point guard of them all. So, would you rather have a scorer running the point? Or a guy that could pull up from half court? Perhaps you prefer a one-man team? Or a pass-first kind of guy?
5. What If Stern Didn’t Veto The Trade?
Chris Paul had outgrown the New Orleans Hornets and was headed directly towards the Los Angeles Lakers to play next to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, right before the then commissioner, David Stern, vetoed the move that would dress the “point god” in purple and gold, preventing the team for creating the newest Big Three.
When the move fell down, Los Angeles would eventually turn their attention to Steve Nash, while also landing Dwight Howard to try and go back to Championship contention. CP3 is arguably the best player not to win a Championship in this decade. Heck, he’s not even made it to the NBA Finals. Hadn’t Stern veto the trade, would the Lakers have won another Championship?
4. Did Jordan Foul Bryon Russell?
One of Michael Jordan’s signature movements has to be his last gasp game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz, a shot that would clinch the 6th and last NBA title His Royal Airness will ever win after pretty much limping to the finals due to exhaustion, completing their 2nd three-peat. But up to this date, this shot has been a matter of huge controversy.
With the Bulls taking a 3-2 lead to game 6 in Delta Center, this matchup would come down to the wire. As you could expect, Jordan wasn’t going to go down easy, so after Stockton put the Jazz up 86-83, he would go on to score a beautiful layup to cut the lead to one, then strip Karl Malone on the very next possession.
Naturally, the last shot will be MJ’s to take, and just when there were under 10 seconds left in the game, Jordan slightly pushed Russell to create space and hit a wide open step back to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead. But, was that push an offensive foul? Should the Bulls have lost this game? What if the Jazz would’ve won that game and forced game 7 vs an exhausted Bulls squad?.
3. Old School vs. Modern era
Old fans are always arguing about the fact that today’s NBA is softer and that modern player wouldn’t be able to dominate back in the day when they were able to hand check and toughly guard each other rather than always favoring the offensive players as the league does nowadays.
On the other hand, modern basketball has brought us perhaps the most complete, well round up and developed players this game has ever seen, not to mention the fact that players have to dominate several aspects of the game to thrive. Is the league so offense-oriented right now? Was it better when big men dominated down low and when players had to earn points the hard way? Is today’s NBA more competitive?
2. Who Was The Real MVP In LA: Shaq or Kobe?
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant formed the most dominated duo this league had seen since the Jordan-Pippen era, taking the Los Angeles Lakers to the highest of levels by winning 3 Championships together under Phil Jackson’s tutelage, but their own personal feud wind up making the team part ways with the big man in order to let Kobe be their go-to-guy for good.
While Kobe was a major stud during the Shaq era, it was the Big Diesel the one who wind up having the biggest performances (at least, statistically) in those three championships, paving his way to 3 Finals MVP. But, who was the real MVP in LA? Was Kobe underrated because of Shaq’s charisma? Did Kobe’s presence open up space for Shaq or was it the other way around?
1. Who’s The Best Player After Jordan: Magic, LeBron, Russell or Kobe?
Now that we all agree that no one will ever be better than Michael Jordan, who’s number second? On one hand, we’ve got the best point guard this game has ever seen, a walking triple-double that led the Lakers to 5 Championships with his showtime, a 3-time Finals MVP, and 4-time assists leader.
If we talk about Championships, then Bill Russell would obviously have the upper hand thanks to his league-leading 11 rings, but considering who he played against, this becomes way less impressive.
Is it Kobe? He’s definitely the closest thing we’ve seen to Jordan, taking the Lakers to 5 Championships and even copying several of his moves and making it better.
Prior to this year, James was making a case for himself, being the best small forward ever, and perhaps the most complete player this game has ever seen, although that 3-6 record in the Finals puts a huge question mark over his head.