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Jerry West Serves Up A Heaping Helping Of Truth For Today’s NBA Players

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The way today’s NBA players handle each other on and off the floor is much different than it used to be. I think we can all agree on that. Well, NBA legend Jerry West had something to get off his chest in regards to the ‘buddy-buddy’ environment he’s witnessing:

“Why shake hands with the enemy who wants to kill you?” West said on Buster Scher’s podcast “The Buster Show”.

In a way, he’s right. Present-day NBA stars seem to view the league as an opportunity to fraternize rather than go to war. Part of that is likely due to the league tightening up on flagrant fouls, but another aspect could be social media.

Why doesn’t anyone discuss social media’s impact on sports?

If Michael Jordan was hacked at the rim by Bad Boy Pistons Bill Laimbeer or John Salley — he didn’t have all these avenues to communicate with them afterwards like you see today. Let Steph Curry or Kawhi Leonard go down hard at the rim, and they’re shooting a text or Instagram DM to cool the air minutes after the game.

Plus, social media grows every incident in sports. If Jerry West ever had bad blood with a certain player, then only he and maybe two or three media members were made aware of it.

The game probably felt more personal rather than a public performance. So while I agree with Jerry West that you shouldn’t want to pat the back of your enemy, I recognize the strategy behind it. If LeBron James has the power to throw you into a role in Space Jam or Steph Curry can help you land your own shoe with Under Armour, you would be stupid to make the game personal. It’s bad for business.

Sports were better before money got involved, and that’s the bottom line. Let’s just embrace that the game is completely different and that we were always headed down this path.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for OutKick.com, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr

22 Comments

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  1. Awesome take, Mr. Sheffield. Money has killed sports for me. I’m 34, born and raised in Pittsburgh. I went from watching guys like Polamalu and Hines Ward to players like Juju and Claypool. A reporter after the season asked Claypool what his biggest takeaway from Juju was and he replied “how to build my brand”. And go figure, the team has 3 playoff wins in a decade.
    The bottom line is that as a kid, you fall in love with sports for all the intangible reasons – comradery, sense of accomplishment, rivalries, the highs and even the lows that make the highs so much better. And of course an inherent love of the game. Now, sports have just become both commercialized and politicized to the point where you just don’t feel the same watching them. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making as much money as you can, but it should never supersede the competitive aspect of the game. If you haven’t seen it yet, the Bird vs. Magic 30 for 30 is incredible. THAT’S what sports should be.

  2. Jerry West knows that the NBA product is complete garbage these days just like Steve Kerr knows it too. We read that article here on OutKick the other day about Kerr’s comments on NBA players not having any fundamentals and him saying you can’t take out all the players. Yeah Steve you are right you can’t take out all the players but fans sure can turn away from a complete garbage product and that is even without mentioning the woke social messaging which in itself is enough to turn people away.The NBA is garbage in so many ways

  3. And Gary well said. You said it all with your point about why would players want to consider Lebron the enemy when he can throw them into a role in Space Jam. It is all about the money for them. Fans who invest themselves in following NBA teams are suckers because it is not even real. the players only care about the money and brand building and not about the actual games. they even skip games when they don’t feel like playing like Kyrie Irving

  4. You’re right, Gary, it is a different age.
    I recall Pete Rose talking about this same thing many years ago. He said players used to get off the charter and they’d all hang in groups and head to whatever club or restaurant was on the agenda the night before a day game, or after a game before heading to their hotel.
    He said things changed when players would have their drivers and limos meet them at the airport and guys would head in 20 different directions. And the camaraderie he saw at the ballpark between opposing players also grinded his gears. Charlie Hustle…you saw it coming, but it was to be expected given everything Young Sheff talked about with the modern era sports environment.

  5. Well said. With the NBA, my tuning it out permanently has nothing to do with money or the game. But I have accepted in all other sports that the past was a different area and will not be replicated. I don’t think it is as enjoyable, but I’ll take it. I do still watch old pre-woke NBA games and highlights, I enjoy those even though I know the outcome.

  6. Really well said, Gary. If we are being honest, based on everything you guys are saying, isn’t this all Jordan’s fault? Since Jordan, building his brand, the shoe deal and clothing line, becoming a global icon, pushing the NBA fandom to heights it has never seen and making more cash than anyone in the history of the sport, everybody wants to be like Mike. When Gary says “we were always headed down this path”, I feel Jordan was the starting point. Jordan was just so damn good, competitive and in love with the game of basketball, I think we forget this. Players today know they’ll never be as good as MJ, but they can still get paid like MJ…

  7. “OutKick was better before money got involved, and that’s the bottom line. Let’s just embrace that OutKick is completely different and that we were always headed down this path.”

    I wonder if Gary had any idea about the Fox buyout when he wrote that last paragraph.

  8. The whole league sucks up to LeBron so bad it isn’t even funny. We all know that he is the real commissioner of the league. That is why until he apologizes, gets punished, or retires I will have nothing to do with the NBA.

  9. The path is apathy and irrelevance. The product absolutely sucks. That’s why they have all those dumb things like t-shirt giveaways and dancers to distract you from the terrible play on the court.

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