Retired NBA players often gripe about the lack of physical play in the league today.
A lot of their hate has recently been directed at the Golden State Warriors. For example, Oscar Robertson thinks no one knows how to play defense on Warriors’ star Stephen Curry and Charles Barkley compares jump shots to pretty girls.
But recently, another former player offered his angle on why Curry doesn’t deserve all the hype he’s getting.
Seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady made headlines during his May 10 appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump“ after saying Curry only received a unanimous MVP award because of the lack of overall talent in the NBA.
“For him to get this unanimously, it just tells you how watered down our league is,” McGrady said. “Think of when (Michael Jordan), Shaq … I mean, those guys really played against top notch competition. More superstars, I think, on more teams, than it is in our league today.”
McGrady never clarifies what exact era he thinks the NBA has watered down from. Assume he’s basing his opinion on his experiences during his career, which spanned from 1997-2012. There’s simply not enough time for the NBA to lose most of its superstar talent in four years. Sure, it’s conceivable that no one will ever match Kobe Bryant’s 35.4 points per game in the 2005-2006 season. And back then Allen Iverson, Bryant, Barkley, Jordan and Shaq – to name a handful – ruled the hardwood and have since retired.
But to call the NBA watered down is downright disrespectful to today’s superstars. Curry, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard are arguably the five best players in the game today, and unless your name is Mark Cuban you would not contend that any of them aren’t superstars. Based on name recognition alone, for every superstar from the 1990s, you could name one that’s playing right now.
McGrady even specifically compared Curry’s current campaign to Jordan’s 1995-1996 MVP season. Both players racked up very similar stats and led their respective teams to the best record in NBA history – the 73-9 Warriors trump the ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls by a game – yet Jordan received 109 out of 113 possible first place votes and Curry received all 131.
“Let’s talk about Michael Jordan’s season that ‘95-96 year,” McGrady said. “Somebody tell me why Steph got it this year, and MJ – (the Bulls) broke the record, they were 72-10, and he didn’t get it.”
Yes, Jordan deserved the unanimous MVP, but that has no bearing on Curry 20 years later.
Let’s also not forget that last season, 23 percent of voters did not think Curry should win the award – and at the NBA Players’ Awards, it was James Harden who won MVP. Is McGrady really going to argue that the reason Curry is the unanimous MVP is that in the span of one year the NBA watered down and lost most of its great players?
He shouldn’t. Curry deserves more credit for having an amazing season – one that clearly showed that he is the most valuable NBA player of the 2015-2016 season. That’s what the award means.
If McGrady truly believes the NBA today is like a watered down kiddie pool compared to the sea of superstars he competed against, then that just means he’s salty.