JJ Redick Calls Out Stephen A. Smith For His ‘Annoying nostalgic’ Comments About Old School Basketball

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ESPN has gotten all too comfortable with pretend debates where two parties pick a side and it comes across as unauthentic. That’s why the debate between Stephen A. Smith and JJ Redick this morning on Mike Greenberg’s ‘Get Up’ was so captivating. Smith made a point earlier that new school players weren’t physical like the players back in the day — that didn’t sit well with Redick — at all.

And understandably so as JJ Redick just retired after 15 seasons in the league. Made for some great t.v..

We actually have three sides to this argument, believe it or not. Mike Greenberg believes the 80’s and 90’s were better eras of the NBA and that today’s players are soft, and then you have Stephen A., who is somewhere in between. Smith highlights the physicality of old school hoops and tries to back pedal on discounting today’s players. And then lastly, JJ Redick that believes romanticizing our child hood heroes of the NBA is happening at the expense of present day players. That’s up for debate, though.

And before we can move on to who was right, we have to acknowledge one thing Redick said earlier this year. He questioned the greatness of Bob Cousy by calling his competition a bunch of “plumbers and fireman.” We see his point that competition, in theory, should only improve meaning the competition should have been at its worst when Cousy played. That said, Redick had no problem disrespecting prior eras in support of the present, yet he can’t handle the same treatment when it happens to him.

All that said, JJ Redick is a bright spot for the network and that’s proven true with his wildly successful podcast “The Old Man And The Three.”

So who’s right?

We’ll start with JJ Redick because he’s clearly the most fired up of the three. He’s accurate when he says old heads describing previous eras as “physical” are disrespecting today’s athletes. How can anyone debate otherwise? Implying the game was far more physical serves as a reminder of how much the game changed for the worse. And that’s why Redick got heated.

This conversation stems from the recent debate between Draymond Green and NBA old heads implying the Warriors star would get “knocked to the floor back in the day.” They’re saying this because Green is essentially playing bully ball during the finals thus far and it’s upsetting everyone. Old heads are getting mad because no one is standing up to Draymond the way players of the past likely would have.

But in general, JJ Redick knows the facts of how the game is played today and how or why it changed. The commissioners wanted to govern the physicality to maximize player health and the league reacted to that change with more skill — increased ability to shoot from three, positions 1-5 can now handle the ball and analytics told players that taking two-pointers was a bad shot. Less physical basketball that wasn’t embraced by old school fans of basketball. It became a league of more slender and accurate players. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Would we all like to see a middle ground that allows some of today’s players to get thrown to the ground? Yes, but at the same time we also must recognize players don’t just get worse as the years march on. Fitness continues to improve along with our diets that’ll lead to plenty more juicy debates comparing eras like this one.

We do agree with Stephen A. and Mike Greenberg on at least one thing, though. That era was objectively better to watch. We can debate skill all we want, but the entertainment value of a more physical brand of basketball was next level. Matter fact, there’s an argument everything was more fun 20 years ago.

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


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  1. Besides being soft today’s NBA players are pussies. They all do “load management” but they they still miss games if they have a sore toe.

    It’s why I haven’t watched an NBA game in over 15 years.

    Today’s NBA players almost make MLB players look like real men. I said almost.

    • Exactly right. Plus if you consider being able to shoot threes and dunk as the the only skills that matter then you don’t know basketball. JJ made a living on one skill. But today;s players are lacking, not only in toughness but in actual fundamentals and skills. They don’t know how to play the game and get away with stuff because of the no handchecking and lax dribbling rules. You think with both, all these stretch “bigger and betters” would get open as much? They would have been slaughtered in the 80s.

      It’s why Kobe is so loved, he was old school that way and he stuck out because of it. Load management? He wanted none of that and he never wanted to team up, he wanted to beat the other best players. Same with MJ, Bird, Magic and Isaiah, all killers. Isaiah played on one leg in the damn finals, you’d have to kill him to get him off the court. Durant is a very skilled scorer but his move to GS, spin it any way you want, was weak. A 73 win championship team, that only lost because of a Draymond suspension, that you were up 3-1 and couldn’t close, and YOU JOIN THEM!! WEAK ASS

      Position-less is another term for skill-less. 3s and dunks, that’s it.

      It used to be such a beautiful game to watch, all these different types of players, adding their own values and skills, to make the whole greater. No more.

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