Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley Miss the Old Days, Say NBA Today is “Watered-Down”
This season has been full of NBA legends coming out and spouting off about how much better the league was back in their day. It’s like a competition to see who can sound most like my grandfather. Tracy McGrady and Charles Barkley decided to throw their hats in the ring this week.
McGrady was first. The seven-time NBA All-Star selection spoke out about 2015-2016 NBA MVP Stephen Curry, saying basically, that he couldn’t have won the award—never mind unanimously winning it—back in the golden days.
“For him to be that first player to get that unanimously, I think it tells you how watered-down our league is,” said McGrady. “Seriously. Because think of when M.J. played, Shaq, I mean those guys really played against top-notch competition, more superstars, I think, on more teams.”
Like it or not, McGrady has a point. This year’s Golden State Warriors 73-win team is special, sure, but it’s not necessarily the best of all time. The league was weak this season. Just look at the playoff teams for this year—only 6 of the 16 teams had more than 50 wins. Only the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Cleveland Cavaliers looked like teams legitimately poised to win an NBA title for the majority of the season, and the Spurs are having trouble right now with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Charles Barkley completely agreed with McGrady when asked about his comments.
“The NBA is watered down. The NBA is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Barkley. “I think we’ve got to address with the kids coming to the NBA after one year. The NBA is definitely watered down. I’ve been saying that for the last two or three years. The NBA is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
Chuck likes to repeat himself, of course, but don’t let the monotony take away from his message. Teams relying on draft picks from the past few season simply haven’t made significant strides towards the top. Every single playoff team this season boasts a leader drafted before 2012, expect for the Portland Trail Blazers who drafted Damian Lillard sixth overall in 2012.
Of course, there’s something to say about a rebuilding phase; however, the Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, and Los Angeles Lakers have not improved much over the past few seasons no matter how many top picks they earn.
“Now we’re drafting kids after one year of college, and it drives me crazy. Because they have potential but they have no idea how to play basketball…Look at Steph and Kawhi [Leonard], they both stayed in college x amount of years. I know everyone’s trying to get paid, but we have watered down product. You know you look at the last couple rookie classes we’ve had they’ve all been guys that have only stayed for one year. And they all have one thing in common—they’re not very good. You know we’re drafting young guys trying to make them NBA players and they just can’t play. They might be a good player in four or five years. The problem I have with the whole thing is it screws up the draft because if my team is bad, I don’t want a guy who’s going to be good in five or six years.”
Aside from the money, there’s no real benefit to being drafted at 19. The draft isn’t designed for help in the future; it’s made for the worst teams to get the best players.
Call me crazy, at least Barkley’s crazy with me…okay, maybe not the best company, but company nonetheless.