Prodded by the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn for some explanation why the modern NBA is relatively rivalry/enforcer free, ten-year veteran Charles Oakley opines, “back in the ’60s and ’70s, they looked like they were more finesse and they are finesse now.” Asked to elaborate, Oak blames it on a combination of analytics and wussiness.
“The coaches in this league, in this day and era, are soft; the players are soft, how can you build something?” he said. “They put all these stat guys, these analytic guys, and put them on the bench and make them GM because of numbers. My thing with basketball, you’ve got to have efficiency within your structure, like San Antonio. You’ve got to have your players to buy in. That’s what wrong with the league, you’ve got guys worried about social media, my brand. You brand once you get drafted, when you win as a team, you get your brand. When your team wins, then all of those commercials will come. Everything is all about hype.”
Oakley has an interesting theory. He believes in order to globalize the league, ex-commissioner David Stern had to change the rules to make the NBA more inviting for European players. While the rule changes to increase scoring were effective, they made the league less physical.
“When we played in the ’80s, it wasn’t OK [for European players to play in the NBA],” Oakley said. “They weren’t coming over here. They were scared. The game was tough and they weren’t tough. Back then it was 1 percent and now it’s 40 percent and it’s going to keep going up. The dollar is international now. I don’t like 7-footers shooting threes, it’s a disrespect to the game for me. Dirk [Nowitzki] is good, point blank. [Larry] Bird got away with it. A few guys can get away with it because they can flat-out shoot.”