Alright, so I haven’t had much to say on the blog for some time now. You can thank finals for that. But thats over now and I’ve got some takes!
You have also probably noticed that there hasn’t been much (or any really) NBA talk coming from the blog… No, thats not because of the Rockets horrid start to what was supposed to be another great season. It’s simply that while trying to finish up the semester, I could really only cover College Football. Now that that’s calmed down (for now), and school being out till the middle of January, I hope to be able to do lots of Rockets blogs in the coming days. With that said, lets talk about just how stupid Kenny Smith made himself look the other night.
To preface, I used to really like Kenny Smith. He used to to be the rational, knowledgable member of the TNT crew. More than that though, he used to be a proud ambassador for the Houston Rockets. However, at some point in the past couple of years, thats all changed. I don’t know if he’s bitter about getting past up for so man NBA jobs, or if he’s just getting dumb as he gets older. But listening to his arrogant, get off my lawn takes has grown tired. This was never more evident than his response to Charles Barkley after Barkley claimed that Harden is “one of the best one-on-one players in NBA history.” This following Harden’s 4th career 50 point triple double, an obvious NBA record. First of all, what Barkley said was 100% true. Barkley mentioned Harden with names like George Gervin (lol), Bernard King (lol), and Michael Jordan. Its not necessary to call out Barkley for thinking Gervin and King are on the same level as Michael Jordan, James Harden, or any other of the 40 or 50 players that rank ahead of those two guys. Those guys were, at the time, the best to do it and guys that Barkley grew up idolizing. So its understandable that he’d be partial to them. What absolutely must be called out though is how Kenny Smith responded to Barkley’s comments.
Smith started off in his typical arrogant tone, “I can’t let you get away with that Chuck!” Then he goes on to say that, while Harden is a great scorer, he can’t be mentioned with the likes of MJ, Gervin, and freaking Bernard King(!). Before I could even start laughing, I hear Kenny Smith’s reasoning, and thats when I lost it. I hear Kenny Smith say something that I wouldn’t let my 75 year old grandfather get away with saying. After hearing this, I experienced such disgust with Kenny Smith that I would vote “yes” in a heartbeat to remove his name from Clutch City history.
Bare with me as I try to put this stupidity into words without directly quoting the Mole Rat himself…
Kenny Smith, paid NBA analyst, claimed that its easier to score now in the NBA than ever before. Why? You guessed it, hand checking. This officially moves the discussion to another category. At first, I just thought it was more Harden hate. But its actually a tragic misunderstanding of basic defensive strategy at the NBA level. It drives me absolutely nuts when I hear someone bring up hand checking because they completely ignore the fact that the rule directly correlated with “illegal” defense. You see, when hand checking was allowed, basic off ball help defense was not. When the NBA realized that they probably shouldn’t allow their most talented players to get manhandled by defenders in one-on-one scenarios, they decided to allow help defense. And what people like Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and countless other old-timer nimrods don’t understand, is that opened up the game on a DEFENSIVE level, not offensive. Why do you think the early 2000’s NBA was constantly scored in the 80’s and 90’s? Because getting rid of hand checking forced defenses to get complicated, and thats only grown. Todays star players see defenses that players in the hand checking era wouldn’t even come close to recognizing if they were to step back on the court. Which makes it all the more impressive that we have Harden and Westbrook putting up 50 point triple doubles. And the Golden State crew finding every single whole in countless defensive schemes. And LeBron James continuing to be the most dominant player the league has ever seen, now into his mid-thirties.
We can even use this point to address the even larger issue… Sports, all of them, are always getting better. Thats simply how life works. When a group of talented people are working on something for decades, the product they are working on will be better now than it was in the past, and it will be better in the future than it is now. Why is that so hard for people to realize in sports!? We don’t hear arguments that medicine was better in the 80’s. Or that education is further behind than it was in the “school house” days. Would anybody rather drive a model T than new Mercedes? One time maybe for the experience, but the Mercedes is the better vehicle. In fact, the only area where this can be questioned is arts, music, paintings, things that are strictly subjective. It blows my mind that the men, the legends that helped make this game what it is today, refuse to see it. They’re depriving themselves of credit. When people are great at something, they encourage more greatness, and thats more evident in sports than anything else. Kenny Smith happens to not be one of these legends that lead this game forward. He was nobodies favorite player. The most he accomplished was making a couple of key shots during his coat tail riding of Hakeem Olajuwon. Maybe thats why he’s so mad. Maybe he tells himself todays game is easier so he can feel better about the fact that he wasn’t even all that good when NBA defense was no more complicated than your basic average high school teams…