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NBA Throwback: Was Basketball Better 25 Years Ago?

NBA Comparison 25 Years Ago Vs Today

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has undergone significant changes over the past 25 years, evolving in terms of playing style, player development, and overall league dynamics.

From the dominance of the Chicago Bulls in the late 1990s to the rise of superteams and the increasing importance of three-point shooting in today’s game, the NBA has continuously adapted to new trends and strategies. In this article, we will explore the key differences between the NBA of 25 years ago and the modern game, examining factors such as player skills, rule changes, and the global expansion of the league.

By comparing the NBA of the past to the present, we can gain a better understanding of how the sport has grown and developed over time, and anticipate the direction it may take in the future.

Done with the 90s

There has been a trend on social media called ‘done with the 90s,’ which focuses on the perceived lack of skill during that era in comparison to today’s stars.

Golden Era

People often engage in ongoing debates about different eras in the NBA, with one of the most popular being the comparison between LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Deciding which era is superior is a matter of personal opinion, but numerous enthusiasts contend that the ’90s represented the pinnacle of NBA basketball.

They Play Physical

Kevin Durant mentioned that he often watches film from the 90s and 80s, where he believes that the players played a more physical game and got away with many flagrant fouls.

Physical Defence

25 years ago, the NBA had a much more physical style of play compared to today. Many teams had players who were known for their toughness and enforcing the rules, and what are now considered flagrant fouls were simply seen as common fouls back then. In addition, hand-checking was permitted, allowing defenders to make contact with and impede players.

Jordan Rules

An excellent illustration of the physical nature of that era was the ‘Jordan Rules’ employed by the Detroit Pistons against Michael Jordan during the late 80s and early 90s. According to ESPN, the ‘Jordan Rules’ was a strategic approach aimed at preventing Jordan from reaching the rim and wearing him down.

Excessive Three-point Shot

In today’s NBA, the increased reliance on the three-point shot has led to several challenges that have impacted the overall quality of the NBA product compared to the 90s.

Three-point Revolution

NBA Discussion reports that the average number of three-pointers made in an NBA game these days is thirty, as opposed to ten in the 1990s. Damian Lillard, James Harden, and Steph Curry are leading this three-point revolution.

Spacing

The increased frequency of three-point shots has transformed certain NBA games into intense three-point battles, resulting in greater spacing on the court. This enhanced spacing has made it more convenient for offensive players to score both inside and outside the three-point line, thanks to the ample room available.

More Intense Rivalries

According to Complex, the NBA rivalries in the 90s were intense, captivating the entire nation as they eagerly watched the Chicago Bulls face off against the New York Knicks or Detroit Pistons. The Indiana Pacers had intense rivalries with the Knicks and Pistons too.

One of Ones

More than 25 years ago, the league was filled with some truly unforgettable personalities. It was almost a guarantee that players like Dennis Rodman, Xavier McDaniel, and Vernon Maxwell would always find a way to disrupt a team’s offensive flow with their unpredictable antics.

HOF Big Men

The NBA has undergone a significant transformation, with the expectation that players who are seven feet tall must possess the ability to shoot three-pointers. In the past, excelling as a center meant having nimble footwork and a fierce attitude to thrive in the paint.

Best Centers

According to Complex, the 90s witnessed an exceptional group of centers in NBA history, which included renowned players like Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, and David Robinson. Additionally, Dikembe Mutombo, Rick Smits, and Luc Longley can be included.

Basketball in Popular Culture

With the assistance of the 1992 Team USA ‘Dream Team’ and the emergence of iconic figures like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, basketball became an integral part of both popular and everyday American culture. According to Sportskeeda, O’Neal is well-known for collaborating with rap legend Notorious BIG on a song back in 1996.

Michael Jordan

Discussing basketball in the 1990s without mentioning Michael Jordan would be incomplete, as he was the most prominent figure in the sport during that era. The Chicago Bulls legend was an absolute force during that time, achieving an incredible feat of winning six NBA Championships in six Finals appearances, and earning six Finals MVPs.

The Bulls

The Bulls phenomenon in the 90s was not solely created by Michael Jordan. Alongside his sidekick Scottie Pippen and under the guidance of Phil Jackson, they were able to secure six NBA Championships. The 1996 Chicago Bulls team, with a record of 72 wins and 10 losses, is widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA teams of all time.

What Do You Think?

Do you have any opinions? Do you think the NBA was better twenty-five years ago or do you like it more now?

Conclusion

In comparing the NBA of 25 years ago to the league we know today, it is evident that the game has undergone a significant transformation. The shift in playing style, emphasizing three-point shooting, pace, and spacing, has revolutionized offensive strategies and changed the way teams approach the game.

The influx of international talent has made the NBA a truly global league, with players from all corners of the world contributing to the growth and popularity of the sport.


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