Basketball: Too Soft?

Alex Lopez Guzman, Staff Writer

         In recent years, basketball fans have heard it all–load management, rigged fouls, stat-padding, ring chasing. Yes, we’ve been going downhill these few past years, but hey, at least we got James Harden averaging 36 points, right?! But, where’s the fun in that? Remember a time when the defense was well-earned and deserved. Let’s answer the question, is the NBA’s basketball too soft?

          First and foremost, the definition of “soft”: usually not physical; afraid of body contact; someone who is not tough. The word tough is something we’ll be referring to often, so let’s search it up too. Tough: “strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.”

        There are countless examples of the NBA being “soft” in today’s time. ClutchPoints stated, “In 2016, LeBron James whined and whined about Draymond Green calling him ‘the b-word’ and retaliating against him, leading to a Game 5 suspension.” LeBron, already has an entire flop compilation on him, and still, he acts like this? Another prime example is Kevin Durant. However, this type of “soft” isn’t what’s generally expected; this “soft” refers to his mentality. According to ClutchPoints, “The discovery of his Twitter burner accounts led to plenty of ‘snake’ memes, and Durant’s decision to join a 73-win Golden State Warriors team, the one that had just ousted he and the Oklahoma City Thunder in an epic Western Conference Finals, that in 2016 became arguably as infamous as LeBron’s decision six years earlier.” We’ve gone far as a league, but this isn’t even the end of it; many stories are still yet to come.

          Now compare today’s basketball to the pivotal era of the late 80s and throughout the 90s, when many basketball greats and legends were made. Michael Jordan, sure, but Dennis Rodman, and Gary Payton are two players in the spotlight, both defensive studs, and definitely tough players. Dennis Rodman is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and Hall of Famer. When he was asked by a TMZ reporter about the NBA becoming too “soft,” Rodman replied, “Man, all these [NBA players] should quit wearing tampons.” It’s clear how strongly he feels, and I even feel a sense of shame, having been around to experience and see firsthand what the league has devolved into today. Moving on to Payton, who is a one-time Defensive Player of the Year and also a Hall of Famer. NBCSports reports that “Gary believes that if he played in the NBA today, he would constantly be fined for his hard-nosed and aggressive play.” Those days seem so raw, both sides actually putting effort to win.

          In conclusion, I feel like the NBA has certainly gone ‘soft’. And yet, some are still not convinced, imploring, “What about Draymond Green or Patrick Beverly?” Truth is, I wouldn’t even bother comparing them to Rodman or Payton. I appreciate their hustle and effort because that is what makes championship teams. But Daily Beast said it best: this league truly is “softer than baby thighs.”