|Posted by paul on October 27, 2012 at 8:05 AM|
As we know, when it comes to the NBA, the hype must go on. The latest hype coming from the league, and the various courtiers, oops, I mean 'journalists', that surround it, is that the game of basketball has changed so radically that "center" is no longer a position. Can you believe the nonsense these people put out there with so much solemnity?! I remember Larry Bird declaring that soon there would be no players in the league under 6'6". Does anyone else remember that? As I recall, various sages nodded over that one. Tell it to Rajon Rondo. Tell it to Isaiah Thomas, who helped put a (temporary!) stop to the Celtics' championship machine! These announcements that basketball has changed forever never stop. It's all part of the hype machine.
Of course, there is an element of truth behind all this. Basketball is the evolving game, par excellence. The creativity of the players is the driving force in the game. If Baseball is a game of patience, Football is a game of will, Hockey is a game of guts, Soccer is a game of strategy, Basketball is the game of creativity. What thrills us on any level of the game, from the local asphault court with bent rims, to the NBA finals, is seeing a player who has developed an approach to the game, and a vision for its possibilities, that is uniquely theirs. Sure, many fans love the mega-dunk in basketball, just as many football fans watch games just to see the 'vicious hits', and many racing fans pound beers waiting for the crashes, but those who love the game, the core of the fandom? We love the creativity.
So yes, the game does evolve. And too, constantly improving training regimens, combined with a wider and wider sweeping net for talent, results in a greater and greater premium being placed on athleticism. Players are generally taller and more athletic, and they are generally capable of playing more positions. Sure. I guess so. If you ask me, Rajon Rondo could be one of the most effective post players in the game today. It's one of my broken record themes of course, that Rondo should keep working on his hook shot, and his various post moves, because if you couple all that with his passing ability, and his agility, I think he could be devastating in the post. He and KG could slip back and forth all night, low post to high post, high post to low post, inside to outside, outside to inside. That would be fun to watch, with Lee and Pierce cutting to the basket, or spotting up, while Brass or Sully attack the offensive glass. Mmm mmm. I want to see that, man!
But come on, give me a break, NBA hype machine! Versatile players have always been a key part of the game, and many centers in history have broken the mold. Russell was a classic example. He could run the floor with anyone. Cowens was another example. He loved attacking the post, but like Garnett, he also loved the mid-range shot, and he loved running offense out of a high (wide) post position. The fact that the NBA is short on top quality centers today doesn't mean much. Has everyone forgotten one Shaqille O'Neal? Just two short years ago, this guy was still dominant in the right situations (ie, teamed with Rondo), on the very doorstep of retirement. This crap about the Center being no longer a real position is just that. All that needs to happen is for one guy to come into the league who loves the low post, and who has some killer moves down low, and who loves to patrol the paint defensively, and rebound, and outlet, and next thing you know the league will fill up with centers as the younger players imitate all this. Whoever does this doesn't even have to be tall. Heck, Rondo could lead the way! So could Sully! Even KG can do it when he gets in the mood.
I mean, come on!!! Give Kendrick Perkins a soft pair of hands and I guarantee you, the hype would reverse itself almost overnight.
I'd love to see the Cs change some of that that hype this season. What about a team that was versatile and athletic, but also made a point of owning the basket area? Wouldn't that be something?