The Milwaukee Bucks opened up their new arena and new season against the Indiana Pacers on October 19th, as the Bucks new season has gotten underway a little under two weeks ago. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined the Bucks Broadcast on FS Wisconsin to give his opinion of the new facility; calling it the “New Standard” for the league’s venues.
The Commissioner also gave his thoughts when asked about the increased level of scoring in the NBA, versus the traditional defensive era of the recent NBA’s 19th century. “I feel it’s good for the game because it will make the game better. Our game is aiming for more skilled players, rather than players that just have size.” This statement comes as a shock from an NBA Commissioner who currently has players playing in his league that aren’t great shooters, play off of sheer power, and made a career off of playing a more physical style.
Players such as Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Kobe Bryant, and the league’s most popular name LeBron James, have all played under the physical era of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and some of those names just mentioned weren’t and still haven’t improved their shooting in their careers. When you think of legends like Shaquille O’Neal, who’s a 4-time former NBA Champion, 2-time scoring champion, 15-time NBA All-Star, and how he was able to have a successful NBA career with just a 4 percent 3-point shooting percentage, you then take Adam Silver’s comment as an inaccurate statement. Shaquille was able to do so because to add to all of his other accolades, Shaquille was also 3-time All-defense in the NBA.
To believe that jump shooting is the key aspect of long-term success in the NBA hasn’t been proven within the last 23 years of the NBA. The Houston Rockets were able to accomplish during the 1994 & 1995 NBA season — winning 2 NBA Championships, but the team did have a Hall of Fame Center in Hakeem Olajuwon, who had an all-around game, which was not limited to jump shooting. During Hakeem’s career, he averaged a 3.1 blocked shots (3-time block champion), 11.1 rebounds per game, but a three-point shooting percentage of just 20 percent. Nonetheless, Hakeem Olajuwon is a 2-time NBA Champion, former 2-time Finals M.V.P., and 9-time NBA All-defense.
When you take a look at an example of not only two of the best NBA centers in the game, in Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon — two players who became legends with physical domination of the NBA, who did it with limited shooting ability, this basically refute Adam Silver’s comments that more shooting is needed in order for the NBA to be successful. The highest rated and most watched NBA Finals series was game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. This includes the NBA Finals leading up to 2018, where the Golden State Warriors have won 3 out of 4 NBA Titles and changed the way the NBA is played today.
Out of the four best players for the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, only one of those 4 was a decent shooter from three, and that was John Stockton, who shot 52 percent from three during the 97-98 NBA Season. The final score for that NBA Finals game was a low-scoring 87-86, yet this was the highest viewed NBA Final game in NBA history. In 2015, the Cleveland Cavalier-Golden State Warrior NBA Finals series was the highest viewed on ABC, as the series averaged 11.6 and averaged 19.94 million viewers. In that finals, only one of the teams was a significant shooting ball club, and that was the Golden State Warriors.
That year the Cleveland Cavaliers shot a mediocre 36 percent from the three-point stripe, while Golden State shot slightly better at 39 percent. With these facts, there isn’t a desire for NBA fans to see more shooting in the NBA, nor is there a better direction for the league to cater to shooters more. The focus should be on the competition, and who are the stars for the teams that present this competitive nature during that season.
In hindsight, after seeing what the NBA has become, a league with more foul calls, the increasing amount of foul shots and shooting that has surfaced as the primary focus of today’s NBA agenda, according to its Commissioner, the average fan and viewer has to ask themselves why the Commissioner feels the need to increase scoring, when history has proven that the league can be successful regardless of the shooting aspect being increased.
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