Isiah Thomas Backs The Big O, But Gives Curry His Props

Steph Currys two-year run of shooting brilliance and the unprecedented success of his Golden State Warriors team has elevated him into the various  greatest ever conversations, which are the driving force behind 90 percent of basketball discussions throughout the world.

Curry represents a new NBA. Its a style of play that some older heads arent too fond of.

Oscar Robertson was an all-around assassin on both ends of the floor during his Hall of Fame career in which he became the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season. However, the basketball landscape has changed since the pre-three-point-line days of the ’60s and ’70s, when Robertson played for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks.

Curry is the prized offspring of that dramatic evolution, but contrary to popular opinion, Robertson’s not that impressed with what Chef Curry has been cooking up and maintains that the aerial ace wouldnt have the same success in his era.

“[Curry] has shot well because of what’s going on in basketball today, said “The Big O”, who appeared on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Show on Thursday.

In basketball today, it’s almost like if you can dunk or make a three-point shot, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread…there have been some great shooters in the past…but here again, when I played…if you shot outside and hit it, the next time I’m going to be up on top of you. I’m going to pressure you with three-quarters, half-court defense. But now they don’t do that.”

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Robertson went in, ripping todays NBA defensive strategies. He believes stopping Curry is simplejust go out there and guard him farther from the basket.

“If I’ve got a guy who’s great shooting the ball outside, don’t you want to extend your defense out a little bit?” Robertson said.

Sounds simple enough, but when he played, Robertson was considered a huge guard at 6-5 and he had height and skill advantages defending and scoring against smaller players.

While probably true, his assertions might sound a bit out of touch to younger folks. If Robertson initially captured anyones serious ear, the way he followed up with a blanket attack on the intelligence of todays NBA coaches shifted the conversation into old-man-rant territory.  

“I just don’t think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball, Robertson insisted. They don’t know anything about defenses. They don’t know what people are doing on the court.  They talk about analytical basketball and stuff like this…These coaches do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned.”

Robertsons comments kicked off a war of opinions on social media sites and sports radio and TV shows across the country. Curry is the cats meow right now and of course the younger generation and prognosticators think The Big O is nuts and hating a bit on the young bomber. To top it off, Curry dropped 51 points that evening.  

However, Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas, a representative of the ’80s golden-era, says there is some validity to Oscars statement beyond just being a hater or trying to protect the players of his era. He did, however, give Currys magnificence some props, calling him one of the greatest shooters the game has ever witnessed. He’s also on record as having called Curry the “best point guard in the NBA” on several occasions.

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Thomas appeared via telephone on Mike & Mike this morning and Greenberg flat out asked him if Curry would be as effective if he played during the late ’80s and early ’90s.

The game has changed, Thomas said. You cant really apply the rules of my era to this one. We have to appreciate what Steph is doing under the rules hes playing under and hes the best player under the circumstances.

Like Oscar, Thomas did rip current NBA defenses and coaching.  

This is the worst perimeter defense Ive ever seen in the NBA, said Thomas…Coaches let guys guard people way off the ball.

Thomas added that the success of small-ball can be attributed to the rules changes that have totally eliminated the effectiveness of the bigs.

The way the rules are now, Thomas said, it severely hampers the big man. The rules really favor smalls right now. Weve basically eliminated the center position. The pendulum has swung too far against the big player. Bigs are now forced to play like the small guys and stand on the wing and shoot threes. Its the way offenses and defenses are designed now.

Thomas says Curry is benefiting from all of this and thats just facts. Its not a knock on Steph.

Its the best time in NBA history to be a small player,  said Thomas, perhaps the greatest point guard, other than Magic Johnson, to ever step on a basketball court.  

Professional sports is always evolving, altering and growing. There was a time when the center ruled the basketball landscape and the game was won from the outside-in. Over the years this has naturally changed along with coaching styles, players athleticism and ability.

We know that defense is more lax and players werent allowed to shoot 15 threes in a game back when Zeke and The Big O played. The purists and pioneers used to say, you cant win like that.

But maybe, as one of my young sports heads told me on Facebook the other day, They just didnt understand the math.

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