Blog Entry

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

Posted on: May 24, 2009 1:01 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2009 1:02 pm
 

While checking out a few of the now notorious Kobe vs Jordan or LeBron vs Jordan threads I keep running into this single argument that I have trouble swallowing. Some Posters keeps refering to the 1990s as a weak decade for NBA basketball. Often the argument states that there were few teams outside the Bulls that were really even that good and that that is why Michael Jordan is looked at so greatly. Then you will here this followed by the fact that the Lakers and Celtics were old and could no longer challenge the Bulls. That idea is an injustice to many great teams of the 1990s, many of which could have given the 80s Lakers and Celtics a run for their money. Am I saying that the 90s were better then the 80s? No, what I am saying is that they were very close and solid arguments can be made in both cases. Let us take a look.

The 1980s were really dominated by two teams and we all understand that. The rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics is by far the greatest in the NBA and maybe in all sports behind Yankees/Redsox. Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson in college and then on the NBA hardwood is a storybook-type legend that shaped the NBA into a powerhouse league. The Celtics with Bird, Parish, McHale, and Walton created perhaps the greatest frontcourts in NBA history and the Lakers with Magic, Worthy, Kareem, and Cooper were maybe the most balanced and exciting teams ever. Nothing can be taken away from what these two teams did and how great they were.

Let's look at the rest of the 80s teams. There were the Hakeem and the Rockets, Dr. J and Malones 76ers, and the late eighties Cavaliers and Pistons that were all great teams as well. What I am getting at is that the 80s were just like the 90s in that there were two teams that were above the rest and a half dozen or so very good teams just below them. In the 90s the Bulls were the Laker/Celtics in that they were just better then the rest. It is not like the Bulls just swept every team in the playoffs though. They had their hurdles to jump.

To me the 80s and 90s will always stand out as the two best decades in NBA history for a two reason. First, players started to get much bigger, stronger, and faster. This is even more true for the 90s when players like Shaq and David Robinson came on the scene. Before the 80s basketball was more of a team sport and a finesse game. I am not saying that it was not physical, but no one can say it was more physical then the 80s and 90s when players were much stronger and therefore fouls were just that more nasty. Secondly, there were no hand checking rules back then so defenses were twice as aggressive as they are today. I really wonder how LeBron James or Kobe Bryant would do against the 80s Celtics or Pistons or the 90s Bulls or Knicks. Jump shooting was much harder and so was driving the lane. The game is now designed for high scoring and fast paced basketball. Gone are the days of hard fouls every other play and players be whacked al the time. Take a look at some old tapes of games from the 80s and 90s and one will see that it was a much different game.

To say the 90s had no competition for the Bulls is just silly. The Bulls real rivalries took place in the East Playoffs and not the Finals. Sure the Suns, Jazz, Trail Blazers, and Supersonics were all great teams with HOF players on them, but anyone who was alive to watch Jordan and the Bulls play knows that the teams that the Bulls had most trouble with were in their own conference. The early 90s with the Pistons has to be one of the greatest rivalries in the NBA behind the Lakers/Celtics and if the Bulls had been in the west and those playoff series were really Finals matchups then some would argue them to be some of the greatest Finals matchups ever. Also, who could forget the intense matchups with the Knicks and Pacers. Surely those Knicks and Pacers teams of the 90s would have won rings had the Bulls not been around.

Bottomline. It is hard to really compare two different decades of basketball and I for one believe the 80s and 90s to be the best ever do to player size and athletic abilities and the lack of strict defensive rules. To make a claim that Kobe or even LeBron is better then Jordan or Magic is like comparing apples and oranges. Who is to say how well James and Kobe would have played back in the day against hard defenses? Maybe they would be even better. Who knows? Would Magic and MJ thrive even more with less contact? I think Jordan would be even scarier in today's game. You really only need to look at the stats and add to that the era of basketball that they played in to realize that MJ, Magic, and Bird were the greatest players ever. Wilt, Russell, Oscar, and Kareem are also in the mix.

I guess I will close with my alltime top ten list because it just seems fitting.

1)Michael Jordan. 2)Magic Johnson. 3)Wilt Chamberlain. 4)Bill Russell. 5)Larry Bird. 6)Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 7)Oscar Robertson. 8)Hakeem Olajuwan. 9)Tim Duncan. 10)Shaquille O'Neal





Comments

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:59 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

I was watching old film of Dennis Rodman guarding both Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen (two different games of course) and he was just fantastic.  It's a shame his antics will always overshadow how fantastic of a player he was.  In my opinion, I think the low scoring days of the 90's was due most in part to the influx of centers that entered the league.  Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and company really all came onto the scene at around the same time so I think it coincides with the low scoring outputs.  I mean the NBA had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain in their days, but they were basically the only true big men in the league then as Dwight Howard and Yao Ming are now. 



Since: Jan 20, 2008
Posted on: May 28, 2009 7:11 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

GoH,

Great reply.

I won't lie, I'm one of those who looks at the 90s as being inferior to the 80s in basketball.  But when you look in depth at it, it's hard to say that one is that far different from the other. In the end I think the best 20 year span is from 1975-1995. The biggest, strongest, smartest, and most skilled players played in that time frame. That is not to say that the NBA stunk earlier then 1975 or after 1995 I just think it peaked in that span of time. The game was more physical and much more skilled. There were no straight out of high scholl players and infact almost all of the players from that window of time played 4 years of college ball. I miss those days. I would also add the Trail Blazers, Supersonics, and the Pistons. I think the best reply I read on the message board was that in the 80s teams played more of a team game with better offensive outputs and the 90s(mainly early 90s) was the peak of defense and the transition into the superstar era.

Everyone talks about LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan, but wouldn't it be great to see Dennis Rodman guard LeBron James?  I think with the emphasis on man to man defense dying nowadays, players like LeBron are given too much space to pick up heads of steam towards the basket.  A player like Rodman would be the perfect antithesis to LeBron in my honest opinion.  What do you think of that matchup?
Now that is a great thought right there. In my opinion I would wager that Rodman would shut LBJ down big time. LeBron would average below 20 points and would also shoot a low percentage. How would James respond to getting goosed by Rodman in the paint and having Rodman whispering sweet nothings into his ear. Rodman would take him out of his game for sure. I also think that a Scottie Pippen in his prime would also handle LeBron very well. Watch what he did to Magic.






Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2009 1:04 am
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

Chi-Town, since you responded to my Ranking of the No. 1 Draft Picks of the Draft Lottery Blog (shameless plug) I thought I would return the favor and read and respond to one of your posts.  I put this on your blog because I'm not sure if you would read it on the message boards, since there's no telling how long threads last there.  Anyways, I want to start this off by saying you are easily one of the best, I'd say the best, poster here on the NBA boards and you do a fantastic job diving into topics that most people only slightly mention. 

I won't lie, I'm one of those who looks at the 90s as being inferior to the 80s in basketball.  But when you look in depth at it, it's hard to say that one is that far different from the other.  However, outside of the Knicks, Pacers, the Spurs and Jazz (maybe the Heat), the 90s didn't consistently field great teams aside from the Bulls and Rockets.  I used that as a critique before you brought to my attention that there were just as many of those in the 1980s. 

However, I think it's safe to say that the level of play these days compared to those is downright awful.  Teams were so deep then and players genuinely wanted to win.  Not all of them, but a lot of players cared about winning.  It takes some time to find out which players really care about things past their next contract nowadays in the NBA.  I think it's more of a changing of the culture, but it's a shame it affected basketball.  You posted your top ten players of all time, I thought I would commend it and then tell you one thing I'd love to see.  Everyone talks about LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan, but wouldn't it be great to see Dennis Rodman guard LeBron James?  I think with the emphasis on man to man defense dying nowadays, players like LeBron are given too much space to pick up heads of steam towards the basket.  A player like Rodman would be the perfect antithesis to LeBron in my honest opinion.  What do you think of that matchup?



Since: Jan 20, 2008
Posted on: May 26, 2009 10:26 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

This part really stands out for me:

"The game is now designed for high scoring and fast paced basketball. Gone are the days of hard fouls every other play and players be whacked al the time. Take a look at some old tapes of games from the 80s and 90s and one will see that it was a much different game."

If today's game is so high scoring, why don't teams regularly get into the 120's anymore?  I was watching an old Boston/Houston playoff game from the late 80's and THAT was an exciting game.  There was no "clear-out-everyone-so-superst
a

r-can-stand-with-the-ball-until-8-s


econds-on-the-clock-and-go-one-on-o


ne" plays.  It was all about teamwork.  I miss those days.  Today's NBA game is a bore to me.

I agree. The rules are set up today for there to be high scores but there is very little team play. We now have 3 refs and the hand checking rules which should open up the floor. The game has really just been hurt by these rules. I did not mean to say that todays game is more high scoring but more that it is set up for it. Could you imagine Magic, Bird, or MJ playing with these hand checking rules. they would be at the line 25 times a night and average 40 points a game. Also, players got away with a lot more contact with only 2 refs.



Since: Mar 31, 2009
Posted on: May 26, 2009 4:12 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

When Jordan took two years off to pursue his baseball dream. The Bulls couldnt get to the Championship. But he returned and so did Da Bulls to Chmapions. With Jordan, Pippen and Cartwright and the rest of the team looked like one All Star team. I dont think Kobe or Lebron are at that level. So here's the list.
 
1.Jordan -Simply the best ever
2.Wilt- A one man scoring machine. 100 points by himself in one game, unbelievable
3.Magic- Made showtime dazzle.
4.Bird- Made all Celtics better with him on team
5.Oscar- ahead of his time
6.Russell- Ditto
7.kareem- Hook shot unstoppable
8.Isah Thomas- Detriot would never have been a factor without him.
9.Duncan- with David Robinson great D.
10.Karl Malone - I give equal credit to John Stockon for for giving the Mailman all those deliveries



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 26, 2009 3:32 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

This part really stands out for me:

"The game is now designed for high scoring and fast paced basketball. Gone are the days of hard fouls every other play and players be whacked al the time. Take a look at some old tapes of games from the 80s and 90s and one will see that it was a much different game."

If today's game is so high scoring, why don't teams regularly get into the 120's anymore?  I was watching an old Boston/Houston playoff game from the late 80's and THAT was an exciting game.  There was no "clear-out-everyone-so-superst
a
r-can-stand-with-the-ball-until-8-s

econds-on-the-clock-and-go-one-on-o

ne" plays.  It was all about teamwork.  I miss those days.  Today's NBA game is a bore to me.

And for as great as MJ was...Wilt had to play Bill Russell every 5th game or so.  MJ didn't have anyone like that.  My list begins and ends with Wilt.

Just my opinions though.



Since: May 21, 2009
Posted on: May 25, 2009 1:57 am
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

1. RUSSELL
2.MAGIC
3. BIRD
4. WILT
5.JORDANIK
6.KOBE
7.COUSY
8.DOCTOR J
9. DUNCAN
10. SHAQ



MYSELF I WOULDNT EVEN CONSIDERING PUTTING  LEBRON IN THE TOP 20 NEVER MIND THE TOP 10 HE IS VASTLY OVERARTED JUST LIKE DEREK JETER



Since: Jun 4, 2008
Posted on: May 24, 2009 2:35 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

My top 10 would be this

1. Wilt
2. MJ
3. Magic
4. Kareem
5. Shaq
6. Bird
7. Oscar
8. Hakeem
9. Oscar
10. Kobe

After Kobe/Prince retire, I still think it remains the same b/c I don't see Prince doing all that much better. For the rest of his career, he'll be battling Dwight and DWADE in the East and Melo/BROY in the West. I don't see him as that much better than those guys, especially b/c Denver/Orlando/Portland (ESPECIALLY PORTLAND) seem more dedicated than Cleveland to establish big time players around their star.

If Kobe wins 2 more titles (VERY POSSIBLE NEXT TWO YEARS), I could see him top 3-5. But, unless Kobe wins 6-7 (not likely), I think top 2 is out of the question just b/c how mind blowing Wilt/MJ's numbers were.



Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: May 24, 2009 2:08 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

You are right Cliff, in saying that it is difficult to compare players of today's game (LeBron, Kobe, Wade) with past all-time greats (Jordan, Magic, Bird). 

I just try to imagine what would happen if today's player played on the past team. If you took Jordan off the Bulls and replaced him with James, would Chicago will all those titles? Could Kobe take Magic's place alongside Kareem? So on and so on.

After doing this, it's still tough to imagine... you just simply don't know how it would work out, but it would be quite a sight to see.

My all-time top 10 (right now) would be something along these lines:

  1. Jordan
  2. Magic
  3. Kareem
  4. Wilt
  5. Bird
  6. Russell
  7. Oscar
  8. Duncan
  9. Hakeem
  10. Shaq (many other guys could be used here, this tenth spot changes in my mind daily) Tongue out
However, after LeBron and Kobe finish their respective careers, I truly think the top 10 will be this:

  1. Jordan
  2. LeBron
  3. Magic
  4. Kareem
  5. Wilt
  6. Bird
  7. Russell
  8. Oscar
  9. Duncan
  10. Kobe
Solid blog Cliff. Cool


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