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Following Draymond Green’s comments that criticized 80’s and 90’s NBA players saying they weren’t all tough guys, former Celtic and Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell fired back.
“I see Draymond behind me, but don’t act like if this weren’t the 80’s he wouldn’t be knocked out,” Maxwell said during the pregame show.
Kenny Smith would then extend an olive branch by mentioning this is a comparison of eras that clearly have differences. He compared the situation to hockey where certain players are on the team were there to be physical and how that job doesn’t exist today. Draymond’s point yesterday was that basketball governed that job out the NBA utilizing to steeper fines. Technically true, but Cedric Maxwell wasn’t thrilled about that remark.
“Draymond said well if you got thrown out a game during that time, you only could pay two dollars. Well you know what? That’s an insult to anybody that played with me at that particular time because we stood on the shoulders of giants. And the reason he’s making 30 million…he got on my shoulders and somebody else’s shoulders. Don’t be disrespectful. I’m going to quote a famous Chinese philosopher here…Kevin Garnett. He said ‘respect these years.’ There’s only been 32 Finals MVP’s and I’m one of them.”
Plenty to unpack here.
Former Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell responds to Draymond Green’s comments about the physicality of the NBA in the ’80s and ’90s 👀 pic.twitter.com/9xLlbRrBjN
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 9, 2022
Cedric Maxwell was a baller. A two-time NBA champion that was MVP of the 1981 NBA Finals. He’s currently serving as a radio analyst for the Boston Celtics that knows about as much as anyone regarding the game of basketball. He played at a dominant level in the 80’s and it’s his job to stay involved enough to cover the present day players. That’s what makes Maxwell the perfect fit for this conversation and why his response left us puzzled.
Draymond Green, while he’s always been annoying, is alluding to the differences between both eras. One era was considered “tough” with zero ramifications for crossing the line physically as opposed to the way the game is governed today. If Draymond Green decided to play Friday’s Game 4 like Bill Laimbeer or Charles Oakley, he wouldn’t touch the floor until next year.
To simplify this: modern day NBA players feel they aren’t receiving credit from old heads and vice versa. Old school ballers watch a player drop 50 points in today’s game and they say ‘we’d knock him to the floor,’ as if that means a player today can’t be better than they were. It’s a way to discredit anything in the present while elevating the glory days. And based on what Draymond said regarding fines, he’s on the money. He exaggerated by saying ‘two dollars,’ but it’s also accurate that fines weren’t steep enough to steer players away from fighting. The NBA hadn’t decided to remove that physical element out the game yet. Is it soft? Yes. But today’s players didn’t change the rules, former commissioner David Stern did.
Does Cedric Maxwell have a reason to be upset with Draymond? Sure. Is it also a little ridiculous listening to people act like basketball players are miraculously worse four decades after the 1981 NBA Finals? Also yes. Both sides don’t want to admit that you can’t compare eras of basketball. Certain players benefited from different styles of play and there’s nothing productive coming from this pissing contest.