Kevin Durant Isn’t Buying ’80s and ’90s NBA Players As Being ‘Tougher’

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The debate about whether the 1980s and ’90s era of the NBA being tougher and more physical than the league today is ongoing, but Kevin Durant wanted to throw his hat into the ring and decided to stand up for today’s game.

During the most recent episode of his podcast ‘The ETCs,’ Durant explained that he has recently been watching game footage from back in the day.

While he agrees that the era before him was physical, he also believes that players simply got away with more and that they wouldn’t be able to foul the same way in today’s NBA.

“I go back and watch a lot of that 90s film, 80s stuff, and they play physical but I just think they got away with a lot of flagrant fouls,” Durant explained.

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Kevin Durant isn’t on board with the idea that NBA players were tougher 30 years ago than they are today. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Durant isn’t wrong. Some of the fouls players committed 30 years ago would result in immediate multi-game suspensions today.

“We play physical here, too,” Durant continued. “There’s more space, but guys play physical, we got strong, athletic guys here, too. But you did get a lot of flagrant fouls that didn’t result in fines or getting kicked out of the game, so it just seemed like it was a little tougher.”

Durant’s take here is one of the most level-headed out there when it comes to the debate about the different eras of the game. The NBA has evolved, maybe you could say it’s ‘softer,’ but that has less to do with the players and much more to do with officiating.

Written by Mark Harris


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  1. Sorry Kevin, but you’re wrong…..again. This generation of athletes across the board are bigger, stronger and faster, but players from the 60’s through the 90’s were smarter, tougher and just plain better. This generation of players are weak minded and soft.

  2. It was a different game and because of that, you had to be tougher to play that style. I don’t think KD would have liked it much. I don’t think any of today’s players, who are used to popping in 120+ points per game would like being in a scrum where hitting 80 was considered good. But…the game was great back then. You had this thing called ‘defense’ that players were allowed to use to stop the opposing team from just standing outside and popping 3s or driving into the lane untouched. Michael Jordan did not go untouched against the Pistons. Today’s players expect to go to the foul line if they can smell your breath. It means you got too close.

    Not sure if KD would have liked Ricky Mahorn (Ricky Mayhem). Ah…the good ole days.

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