The age-old debate of whether today’s superstars would stand a fighting chance against the legends of the past continues to rage on. And Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr comically dismissed the notion that his team — on the brink of sweeping through the playoffs for the first time in NBA history — would get blown out of the water by the best teams of previous generations.
“They’re all right. They would all kill us. The game gets worse as time goes on,” Kerr joked, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Jimmy Durkin. “Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the ‘50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”
Recently, retired players have come out of the woodwork to claim their teams in their prime could beat the Warriors. Those players include Rasheed Wallace (2004 Pistons), Julius Erving (1983 76ers), Scottie Pippen (1996 Bulls), Magic Johnson (1987 Lakers), Shaquille O’Neal (2001 Lakers), Charles Barkley (thinks all the great teams could beat the Warriors), and Stephen Jackson (2007 Warriors).
They make compelling arguments, but I’d have to respectfully disagree.
You’d have to be pretty hardheaded to believe this Warriors team would lose to a team from 50 years ago
For starters, the Warriors have Kevin Durant, a borderline 7-footer who has range out to halfcourt, incredible defensive versatility, and enough ball-handling ability to drive and attack the rim at will. Durant alone is set to claim Finals MVP, and could become the most efficient scorer in NBA Finals history along the way.
Golden State’s got the best shooter in NBA history in Stephen Curry alongside one of the next best shooters in league history in Klay Thompson. The Warriors have arguably the most versatile player in NBA history in Draymond Green, as well as a pool of talented supporting cast pieces who have contributed to the best postseason ever.
NBA players are taller, more athletic and more trigger-happy from the three than generations before. You can argue those guys were more physical, but they’d drown in the sheer volume and precision of the three-point shot in today’s NBA.
It’s an interesting debate that we’ll never have an answer to. Kerr has a bit of insight, having played alongside Michael Jordan in Chicago.
I think it’s a safe bet to take his word for it.