Nobody will question Kobe Bryant’s place in history as one of the best basketball players to ever play in the NBA. He’s an old school player who earned his fame the hard way – through a lot of hard work and dedication to his craft.
During the latter stages of his career, Bryant has been forced to sit out of action with various injuries. His absence has allowed him to sit back and watch the game from a fan’s perspective. Turns out, he has learned that he no longer enjoys watching the game because of the way it’s currently being officiated.
"It's more of a finesse game," Bryant told the media. "It's more small ball, which, personally, I don't really care much for. I like kind of smash-mouth, old-school basketball because that's what I grew up watching. I also think it's much, much less physical. Some of the flagrant fouls that I see called nowadays, it makes me nauseous. You can't touch a guy without it being a flagrant foul."
One of the things that Bryant hates most about today’s NBA is the hand-check rule that was introduced during the 2004-05 season. In his opinion, the rule has made it much easier for less-talented players to find success in the league.
"I like the contact," Bryant said. "As a defensive player, if you enjoy playing defense, that's what you want. You want to be able to put your hands on a guy. You want to be able to hand check a little bit. The truth is, it makes the game [where] players have to be more skillful. Nowadays, literally anybody can get out there and get to the basket and you can't touch anybody. Back then, if guys put their hands on you, you had to have the skill to be able to go both ways, change direction, post up, you had to have a mid-range game because you didn't want to go all the way to the basket because you would get knocked ass over tea kettle. So I think playing the game back then required much more skill."
Although Bryant believes the rule helps less-talented players, he does not believe his career has benefited from the rule in any way, shape, or form.
"Probably not," said Bryant when asked if he has benefited from the hand-check rule. "Us players, upper-echelon players, are going to do what they do no matter what the rules are. It's not going to make any difference."
Reverting the Rules
As much has he hates the fact that the NBA is taking the physicality away from the game, he realizes the league will never revert back to their old rules.
"Kids might be a little too sensitive for that nowadays," Bryant said with a smirk.
Of course Bryant was half-kidding when he suggested that today’s NBA athlete is ‘sensitive,’ but his words were not too far from the truth. Basketball players these days benefit more from flopping than they do from physical play on the hardwood. That doesn’t necessarily mean that today’s NBA athlete is sensitive, but some players do seemingly benefit from playing soft.
Physicality Be Gone
The NBA isn’t the only professional sports organization that is trying to take physicality out of its game. The NFL (National Football League) is also taking precautions to turn their game into a less physical one.
Many fans will argue that sports in general aren’t as fun to watch without physical play. Unfortunately, sports owners and commissioners don’t concern themselves with pleasing fans as long as they’re making money. The last thing the NBA, NFL or any other professional sports league wants is to lose one of their money-making superstars to a season-ending injury. If/when that happens, the league will suffer as a whole and ultimately make less money via merchandise and ad sales.
And although Kobe Bryant may not like the fact that less-talented players are capable of becoming stars in the NBA now more than ever before, owners absolutely love it. The more stars there are, the more money there is to be made.
At the end of the day, professional sports organizations – including the NBA – are part a money-making business.