Many critics and fans around the world call it the NBA greatest show on earth. No other league around the world brings what the NBA’s game has brought every season. The greatest plays, games, dunks, players and passion for the basketball are reasons why the fans keep watching. The NBA’s style of playing the game has changed dramatically through the years. From the 1980’s to 2002, even though many aspects of the playing style have gone in to new era, NBA’s style of playing basketball kept its heart the same.
Professional basketball has usually kept its popularity with great stylish plays by the players. And style, which is defined as “the way in which something is said, done, expressed, or performed”, the league has maintained their unique game plays. The changes occurred when Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson changed the game during the 80’s to “guard dominantбп from боcenter domination” from the 70’s. “Magic and Bird excited the crowds with their new styles and spectacular plays, as they influenced the rest of the league to change into a league based on their styles of play.” (Levin) Then in 90’s Michael Jordan has showed the best basketball in the NBA’s history. As entering the new millennium, the league’s change in style showed up and downs but Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Vince Carter brought a new definition to the game. These key players contain their own individual styles, but different generations in NBA had its own shooting, dribbling, dunking, coaching, defensively and other more line-ups of plays. Through this research paper the reader will recognize the differences in every categories and playerбпs unique performance that NBA has maintain through the years.
Most teams in the league kept its momentum style the same through the years with боrun-and-gunбп executed by the point guards. In the NBA, momentum of the game decides which team survives with the victory. Having momentum will boost their team with chance of destroying the opponent. Great hustle plays usually brings out the momentum (Gandolfi 67). In 1980’s Lakers switched the opponentбпs momentum to theirs through Magic Johnson. Plays like боrebound from opponents miss shot then kick it off to Magic, and as Magic drives down the court he feeds no look pass to Byron Scott for the slam dunkбп these kinds of plays shifted the momentum for Lakers. Current season, teams like New Jersey Nets led by point guard Jason Kidd uses similar method like the 80бпs Lakers. Running and gunning it with amazing ally-hoop passes from J. Kidd to Kenyon Martin, shifts the momentum to victories for the Nets. In fact with such plays, Nets came out to be this seasonбпs most improved team in NBA.
Pace of the game has been slowed down as years went by in the league. During the 80’s and 90’s, temple of the game was faster with more of the hustle plays ran by the point guards. “Slow it down!” is one of a coachбпs favorite things to say in an offensive set. It gives a coach time to evaluate a defense, call his own play, and generally be a control freak (Oliver). This happens at lower levels as much as the NBA now and, as a consequence, so many point guards are now unwilling to lead a fast break for fear of an undressing by their coach (Oliver). Player like Shaquille O’Neal, who is almost 350 pound, is able to keep up because of slow pace. So, is slow pace games a bad thing? Yes and no, because fast pace game excites the crowd and they are fun to watch. But speedy games lack in game plans strategically. The NBA team coaches want to do plays and run it for the offense. Coaches nowadays want their teams’ style to be slower, that way their team gets more efficient baskets. The NBA team coaches want to do plays and run it for the offense. Teams like Chicago Bulls during the 90’s used play call triangle defense, and won six NBA championship titles with that certain play (Sachare 93).
Since the pace speed decreased, more of the half court offense and three pointers came in handy for some teams. During the 80’s fast pace action, the three-pointer shooting teams were hardly recognizable. Although “3-point” shooters were present in couple of the teams, players like Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Larry Bird, and John Paxson were known as three pointers. But today, teams like Celtics, Bucks, and Dallas Mavericks received the motivation of боlive by the three, die by the threeбп. Not only star players shoot threes in these teams, the entire team goes for the attempt. Three point attempts per game have increased from 10 to 16 during the 94′ and 95′(Oliver). Still these downtown shooting teams do not make all the treys, even though attempts are high, the percentage of making the shot is nearly 30%. Since threes are harder to make they significantly low. According to Oliverбпs research, the ratios of high percentage 3-point shooters are 1:4. That percentage can be very serious problem for the NBA. More attempts will lead to huge number of misses and slow the temple down even more.
A huge significant change from 80′ to 02′ season has been the rule changes. The NBA’s board of governors placed different rules for the 2001-2002 season, and removed the old rules as well. First of all, the league removed illegal defense to allow zone defense. “That means that for the first time in 50 years, or almost since the league began, NBA teams will be allowed to play what’s known as a zone defense, in which defensive players guard areas of the court.” (White) Previous man-to-man defense is not the only way to play defense in the league today. But zone defense means less exciting plays off the offense. Since there are more defenders standing around the basket, the offensive players have to work their butts off to get a single point. Media folks tend to think that the new rule is a tradeoff. The game may become more exciting in the strategic sense, but it’ll lose the big plays and one-on-one matches that defined the NBA during its most recent heyday in the 1990s (White). Another change is the 8-second half court rule, in which ball carrier have to cross half court before 8 second runs out. This rule was made for one purpose only, to speed up the game. Also 8-second rule helps to eliminate walk-it-up approach that allows coaches to talk to their point guards while approaching the offensive set (Oliver). Other minor changes like “3 second defense” rule which means defense gets called for 3 second inside key just like offense does.
The significant part of the NBA style change was the key players who influenced the league to the NBA as greatest show on earth. When it comes to greatest key players in the1980’s, it wonбпt be a surprise if Magic Johnson and Larry bird comes in first. As Levin said, “They influenced the rest of the league changed into league based on their style,” Magic and Larry changed the game during 80’s. Magic Johnson wasnбпt a top scorer but his passing ability led the Lakers to championships. Larry Bird who was top-notch shooter who had dominant skill in offense led his Boston Celtics to championship also. Magicбпs passing game taught rest of the league that scoring is not the only way to win a game. Great assists bring out smarter looks for a basket. Current player who carry the similar style as Magic is Jason Kidd (Smith). Before the 2001-02 season Jason Kidd was traded to New Jersey Nets, who only won 20+ games the previous year. When all the critics thought Kidd’s career might end with the Nets, right now Nets are competing in Eastern Finals and won 50 games this season. It is amazing how one player who is not even a scorer changes team 180 degrees with his passing ability. Kidd probably couldn’t make it this far without observing the Magicбпs style. A player who adopted Bird’s style is Dirk Nowitzki from Dallas Maverick. This player who is almost 7 foot plays guard and forward position, and he is also deadly from 3-point arc just like Bird. With their height advantage and offensive presence, Nowitzki demolishes his defender like how Bird gave his defenders a nightmare.
With another style adoption starting 1990’s, a player who changed the leagueбпs style the most is Michael “Air” Jordan. As coming into the league in 1984, all the NBA fans were soaked with Magic and Birds’ performance. As years went by Jordan single handedly led his team, Chicago Bulls, to the playoffs and show the league whatбпs known as “human highlight film”. Michael Jordan’s style was high flying acrobatic dunks, jumping ability, shooterбпs touch, defense, and unstoppable (Sachare 173). He was simply the best all around player. Most importantly Jordan created his own style of basketball and influenced the entire NBA. For example, Jordan created what’s known as “A fade away jump shot”, where he leans back avoiding the block while shooting. Right now about 70% of the player use this shooting style (Schwartz). Star players like Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, and Kobe Bryant use this shooting style every time they shoot. Speaking of Kobe Bryant, when people watch Kobe play, they will see the Michael Jordanбпs style in him. From fade away jump shot to being unstoppable, Kobe is known as Jordan II. Great players influencing the rest of the league is what defines NBA.
Slam-dunk is most popular style of basketball that pro players like as well as fans want to see. “The dunk shot is one that can boost your teammates’ spirits and quickly demoralize the opponent.” (Gandolfi 115) During the 80’s before Michael Jordan came in to the league dunking was simply known as easy way to score a basket. But Jordan showed that dunks are style and creative art. Slam-dunk leads to change in momentum, temple, teamбпs spirit, intimidation, and defender’s mind. Although jumping ability is required to dunk, that just wonбпt do much when it comes to stylish high-flyer. Players need creativity and timing when dunking. Michael Jordan dunk on opponents and almost over their head. But Vince Carter who is known to be best dunker of history clearly jumped over a 7 “2 center and slammed through the basket during the 2000 Olympics. That dunk was called “greatest play” in sports history. And Vince continues on to do dunks that never seen before in the previous years. His style is what people love and keep watching NBA’s basketball.
The NBA has changed its outside styles like the new rule and plays, but it came into fact that inside heart didn’t change. Players’ style influencing each other and passing down through decades is similar to cultural tradition. Back then game was exciting because of fast pace performance, now the games are still full of excitement because explosive plays like dunks, special moves, and great style that adopt from NBA icons. These two facts relates to each other in a way that they define NBA’s heart and soul, the style.