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”.
For the full episode: https://t.co/kVUiHtscqd— Buster (@BusterScher) April 24, 2021
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.