Get off My Lawn Steph Curry
*Photo via NBC
Recently, NBA Hall of Famer, Oscar Robertson aka the BIG O, was on the ESPN radio show Mike and Mike in the Morning. The Big O ripped into the league, their coaches and didn't seem to be too impressed with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors offense. He basically said that the coaches in the league don't have an understanding of what's going on because if they did, they would know to guard up tight on Curry, extending their defense to half, three-quarters, or full-court. He also said the Warriors only had a couple plays, a top side pick and roll with Curry and Green, and baseline screen plays--which in some cases is true, especially at crunch time.
The internet and Twitter went crazy when they heard Oscar make these statements, saying, “Just another grumpy old legend hating on the new generation of basketball players”. That " Get off My Lawn" mentality where older players will always tell you that the game ain't the same and these players weren't as good as we were, etc etc etc. Everybody thought the Big O was mad for making such a statement, especially against the new Golden Boy of the league, Mr. Steph Curry.
Shout out to Mr Oscar Robertson for keeping it 100. I have been saying this since last year, well the how to guard Steph Curry part, everything else, that's Oscar opinion. The day before the Big O made these comments, I was watching the Warriors/Heat game, which was a classic, one of the best this year. While watching the game, I was wondering when will the Heat extend the defense full-court or at least to half-court, and not allow Steph Curry to step in to three point shots.
*Photo via Sporting News
Curry to three pointers is like Jordan, Wilt, Dr. J., or Shaq to dunking. One three made by Steph gets him, the crowd, and his teammates excited and more into the game. So why not extend the defense and force him to play within the three point line? Curry is potentially one of the greatest shooters ever--well at least the best three point shooter ever-- and teams and defenses continue to let him stroll to the three point line and not press up on him to make him drive? It is mind boggling. Even legend, Walt Clyde Frazier, a great defender in his time, said he would play Curry tight and force him to shoot all twos. But off course, Clyde was labeled as another old guy "hating" on Curry.
This is not "hate" or "shade" to the kid Steph Curry, who is an incredible player and shooter, but it is basketball common sense. Taking away a player's strength and make him do something he isn't comfortable with. Arguably the best defender ever, Bill Russell was once said " Basketball is a game of habits, If you make the offensive player deviate from his habits,You've got him". Coaches in our days (I am sounding old) taught us to put ball pressure on point guards full-court and turn them, meaning, make them change directions. The more the point guard changed directions, the more the chance of a turnover because of ball pressure and of them being out of control. This also works the shot clock so that the opposing team has less time to run their offense. Another result would be fatigue. The ball pressure might not work in the first, second or third quarters, but it will surely work in the fourth when those legs are needed to shoot the ball. So the legends know what they are talking about, but these are players that were educated in the game of basketball by coaches who were teachers. There are a lot of players now that play the game but aren't really educated in it.
Perfect example, I watched the classic Golden State Warriors/Oklahoma City Thunder game this past Saturday. Incredible back and forth action, great all around game. Steph Curry got a little scare when he sprained his ankle in the third quarter. He eventually came back to the game. Now as a player guarding him or coach, wouldn't you want to test that ankle out and put full-court ball pressure on him?
*Photo via Getty
Steph ended up missing the next game against the Atlanta Hawks, so that ankle was definitely sore. I guarantee that if the Thunder put pressure on him--Russell Westbrook in particular--Curry doesn't go off for 46 points and win the game in overtime with an incredible half-court shot. I don't know if it’s the players or coaches' unwillingness to adjust and try something different.
And to Oscar's point about the coaches not understanding what's going on. Curry is about to hit 400 three pointers this year, wouldn't you want to pick up and extend the defense? What some of these coaches are doing to try to contain him isn't working, so why not try that? From what I have watched, it hasn't happened at all or too often. Opponents of the Warriors are picking up at the three point line, that's too late and too much space for Chef Curry. He is cooking at that point.
But as the saying goes, it is what it is and I will probably be labeled a hater like the grouchy hall of famer/Mr. Triple-double/the man instrumental in the free agency rules that are still intact in the league today. Without Oscar Robertson's lawsuit challenging the league then, these young players wouldn't be getting all that great money and would still be playing with one team. But probably half or most of you didn't know that. Oscar can say what he damn pleases because of this. So I will take that heat, chilling with the man, the myth, the legend, The Big O.