Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have effed with? That’s me… A look at toughness in the NBA.
The PG of the Portland Trailblazers, Andre Miller, was suspended last week for demolishing Clippers rookie Blake Griffin after a series of rough shoves during their regular season game.
Miller was quoted as saying “It just shows how soft the league is getting” and sparked some reminiscing over the good old days of the rough and tumble NBA over on BlazersEdge.com:
I like basketball. I like beautiful basketball. I am not a fan of brutality, nor of violence. I roll my eyes when I watch hockey and a semi-predictable fight breaks out.
But I also know that professional sports are played by athletes with desire and incentive to win. That desire and incentive will lead to cut corners in playing style. If they think they can gain an edge by shoving an opponent, kneeing them in the calf in the post, planting an elbow subtly into the breadbasket or even jawline, athletes are going to do it.
Neither referees nor the league office will catch most of these tactics. Nor will officials catch their emotional cousins: jawing and baiting and insulting, and demeaning, and humiliating designed to get into the heads of opponents. Once upon a time they didn’t have to. Most guys came to the game ready for physical play. Many teams had players specifically designated as enforcers. You didn’t get out of line because you didn’t want a hulking forward assigned to knock your block off trailing you on every play. If a confrontation got to the point of over fisticuffs the league stepped in. Short of that, players policed players. Occasionally proceedings got out of hand, even dangerous. Kermit Washington’s famous punch comes easily to mind. Then again, the infamous Pistons-Pacers brawl happened under “new” rules so I guess we’re even.
The game was better then. Andre Miller is right. This squeaky-clean (not really, but let’s pretend) league is soft. And I’m glad he said it.
What we have now is a league where guys can commit subtle infractions all day without fear of reprisal. We have a league where a big guy like Griffin can shove a point guard and get the benefit of the doubt because he’s huge and athletic and maybe just blocking out hard. When the little guy has the guts to stand up to him and give it back, that act of bravado is considered a crime. We have a league where two-bit jaw-flappers like Kevin Garnett can needle all day without any fear of getting that jaw jacked or having to back it up. The league isn’t sanitized, it’s annoying.
- Andre Miller is Right | BlazersEdge.com
To that point here is a photo montage of some old school NBA bad asses. Chime in with your favorites or ones that need to be added to the list: