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Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 at 9:50 am  |  68 responses

Matt Barnes Calls the NBA ‘Soft Now’


A bored Matt Barnes was catching up on some old-school NBA hoops, when he noticed how much harder the fouls were back in the day (and how many fewer calls guys used to get.) Barnes called today’s League soft on Twitter: “Watching this Pistons v Celtics from 85.. Where u had to #REALLY foul some1 to hear the whistle. #NoFlopping #NoCharges … You could hand check. Wat happened to that style of play? #REALHOOP!! The NBA is so soft now, but I guess u can say that bout all sports smh.”

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  • KSupreme

    AMEN! Layups were rare

  • bike

    Protect the shooters, protect the superstars, and fear of another Malice in the Palace. These are some of the reasons for the transformation.

  • Da Real

    Agree 100%. If you combine the lack of “true positional” payers, all of the tickey-tac fouls and all the flopping, the game looks way different than it did 15 years ago, and not in a good way.

  • i_ball

    He is right – all modern sports are softer than they were on the 80s and 90s. I guess you can blame the business part of all sports for that – they have to protect the superstars as they are the ones generating the revenue.

  • Anthony

    then again, they could shoot a lot better too. Was watching these same games and saw Ainge pull up for a 14-15 footer w/ an open lane….that would NEVER happen in today’s NBA…(they can’t shoot that good)

  • spit hot fiyah

    soft….like this towel

  • 80

    It is soft. That is why superstars of today have inflated stats, why overall level of skill is down, why we have PG dominant league, and why it is not as attractive as it used to be. Fans can see that

  • Shooting Guard

    he’s right, but it’s not just the nba it’s happening everywhere. Players are huge assets, nobody wants to see their $90million go down, it’s bad for business

  • BugEyes

    It is soft, but the NBA is not Down it’s more popular than ever. even summer league had a crazy audience this year

  • BugEyes

    I forgot all about the palace. stern is lucky that could of easily been so much worse, pacer players are lucky they got out of there clean

  • Matisse

    Why is it that when someone sees an old video of those 80′s Piston teams people assume all the teams back then implemented that type of style of defense? They didn’t. In fact a lot of teams didn’t focus on defense at all. Just like teams now and like teams from the beginning of basketball infancy.

    Sports viewers are so dissatisfied with the modern product and I can’t imagine why.

  • Matisse

    What I want to know is, what logic you used to assume that a softer league makes its players have inflated stats and make it a pg dominant league? lol it sounds silly.

  • RKJ92

    He’s not wrong either.. players need to man up and stop playing like such p*ssies, and refs need to start doing there job better, stop calling sympathetic fouls.

  • danpowers

    were there more severe or career ending injuries in the 80s and 90s? i dont think so

  • i_ball

    I don’t think it’s the career ending injuries that caused it. Less contact and the development of medicine would mean a chance for a longer career I guess, which would lead to more revenue finally.

  • Dfrance

    Changes were made because fans got bored with the slowdown, grind it out, low scoring basketball of the mid 90s. The easiest way to increase scoring was to make it easier for your best players to score. No handchecking, calling more touch fouls etc.

    The game is as popular as ever. The average fan loves the game the way it is. It’s only the diehards that pine for basketball “the way it was back in the day.”

    With that said, I do think the referees need an overhaul. They need to be trained better, they need to make their own calls and not be influenced by the level of stardom of the players being officiated and they definitely need to get rid of that godawful charge/block restricted area.

  • Caboose

    1. Hand checking would ruin the quick point guards of today. Examples: Ty Lawson, Brandon Jennings, Russell Westbrook (kinda), Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry
    2. Less contact allowed inside means that finishers don’t have to be as strong or as crafty; simple moves at the rim are enough now. Examples: Derrick Rose, Andre Iguodala, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Kevin Love.
    3. The uptick in fouls leads to higher ppg, higher ftm and higher fg%. Examples: Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Kevin Martin, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams.

  • pposse

    i agree but I think there is enough superstars in the league now where a transition to “slowdown, grind it out, low scoring basketball of the mid 90′s” can thrive. That style sucked when there was only Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Kobe and Shaq (on one team) as faces.

    Now there’s a handful of superstar level pg’s, and enough SF superstars to carry the league and that style of play.

  • 80

    Ok logic behind my claim is this. Since there is no hand-check, and no contact on guards allowed, there is more room for them to operate. They receive the ball facing the basket, and as there is no hand to slow them down, or to predict where they gonna go(think clyde the glide said he could not remember receiving the ball facing the hoop)they can penetrate easier then before. My claim that stats are inflated comes from the fact that scoring exploded once the NBA installed no hand-check rule.1.Kobe BryantLAL35.42.Allen IversonPHI33.03.LeBron JamesCLE31.4

    season before with hand-check
    1.Allen Iverson-PHI30.72.Kobe Bryant-LAL27.63.LeBron James-CLE27.2

  • 80

    dam disqus… no handcheck season 2006

    1.Kobe Bryant LAL 35.4
    2.Allen Iverson PHI 33.0
    3.LeBron James CLE 31.4

    previous season handcheck was allowed

    1.Allen Iverson-PHI 30.7
    2.Kobe Bryant-LAL 27.6
    3.LeBron James-CLE 27.2

  • 80

    It may seem like it is popular, but ratings say otherwise. Highest nba ratings are all from the 80s. Chicago bulls had a decent ratings in the 90s, but ratings now are not great. Illustration:
    game 7 1988 has a 21.2 rating
    game 7 1984 has a 19.3 rating

    and these are two highest rated games. Bulls had decent rating of around 16 points on the average, highest was game 6 in 1998 with 18.7 points, while last four years ratings are 10 points on the average.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    none of those guys ever played in a season where handchecking was legal.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    LOL where did you make up these numbers?
    .
    The highest rated finals in NBA history was 1998, and it was scored an 18.7
    .
    1988 – 15.4
    1984 – 12.3
    .
    .
    And the reason the ratings have gone down has nothing to do with the NBA losing popularity, it has to do with there being 300 more channels then there used to be. Please try and look at things in context.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    dude, hand checking wouldn’t ruin anyone. it would hurt some guys, and help others. but it wouldn’t ruin anyone. it never did in the past, no reason to think it would now.

    .

    The less contact allowed thing is literally a load of bullsh*t. Watch the 1986 finals, and watch this years ECF. You will notice, the ECF are arguably more physical.

    .

    WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
    .

    We are in a golden age of nonfouling. During the 2011-12 regular season, teams committed 19.6 fouls per game, the puniest amount in NBA history. This is not an anomaly. The five most-recent seasons have been the five least-fouling years in NBA history.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    stats are not inflated. stats are down from the 80s. They hit an all-time low at the end of the 90s, so the league implemented rules to speed the game up, and take some of the advantages the new age defenses gained from the rules.
    .
    The rules changed to make the game more exciting, like it was in the 80s. Before defenses became so freaking complex. Please, do some research.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    there are less fouls now. the whole “touch foul” thing is a myth. total and complete myth.

  • lil hill

    you people are morons basketball is a game that takes skill and footwork if you have to foul somebody to stop them that is soft and the main reason why they got rid of all that physical play is Michael Jeffrey Jordan

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk
  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I used to think that too, but now I’m starting to see how lame this whole nonsense is about today’s people being “soft” compared to the old days. People were not bodychecking each other and brawling every game in the ’80s. If anything the defense being played today is better than ever.

    Team defense in the ’80s is what I’d call “soft”.

  • The Seed

    Matt Barnes recreated himself to this suppose defensive stopper. He is fake tough, but it works in this NBA. Its funny how he is calling the NBA soft, but he and some people act like he is a tough guy. He basically called himself out. Its time for Barnes to step up an play ball, I hate when guys act like they would make it back then. Barnes would not be in the NBA back then.

  • bike

    One thing to keep in mind is that older style of play is now being emulated in the college game which many think is a real bad trend. Hand checking, ‘no blood, no foul, and body checking the re-bounder has become commonplace now in college hoops. The result? – boring, low scoring games.

  • 80
  • 80

    what do you mean?

    In 94 the NBA removed hand-checking from the baseline to the freethrow line, in the year 2000 they removed chucking and wrapping from the game and in 2001 they introduced the 3 second rule and allowed zone defence to be played legally.

    Hand-checking was eventually completely removed from the NBA at the end of the 2004 season.

  • TR

    Honestly I think if you played bball from 85-present you could play in any era. I dont think the physicality or changes to the game would effect many players from this time.

  • Dfrance

    I’m not saying that there are more fouls called in todays game, but I definitely think things that are consistently called fouls today, wouldn’t always be called fouls “back in the day”

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Oh you looked at the single game ratings and not the actual series rating, I didn’t notice that. My bad.
    .
    Why do you think one game is indicative of overall popularity? Especially in the 80s, when there was 20 channels…..total:

  • JC

    Im glad that at least nbk is keeping it real in here, providing facts do disprove all these “the game was so much better in the good ol’ days” claims and myths. The game is doing fantastic right now.

  • 80

    Why I say stats are inflated is because less skilled players can score easier in this league. Stats were dropping because players are gaining more weight (i know you will say more musclemass, but in the essence more weight) and as a result they are slower, which slowed the game down(even Lebron who is a freak of nature has problems on his first almost always traveling step, which refs so rarely whistle against him as it is hard to move such a great mass). It became harder for a perimeter player to break down defenses, especially when someone has a hand on his hip. Thats why hand-check was removed. I would not say that there was a leap in defensive complexity, if anything players are deficient in fundamentalskill and knowledge, then they were a decade ago.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    • In the backcourt, there is no contact with hands and forearms by defenders. In the frontcourt, there is no contact with hands and forearms by defenders except below the free throw line extended in which case the defender may only use his forearm. In the post, neither the offensive player nor the defender is allowed to dislodge or displace a player who has legally obtained a position. Defender may not use his forearm, shoulder, hip or hand to reroute or hold-up an offensive player going from point A to point B or one who is attempting to come around a legal screen set by another offensive player. Slowing or impeding the progress of the screener by grabbing, clutching, holding “chucking” or “wrapping up” is prohibited.
    .
    ” In the frontcourt, there is no contact with hands and forearms by defenders except below the free throw line extended in which case the defender may only use his forearm”
    .
    1994 – • Hand-checking eliminated from the end line in the backcourt to the opposite foul line.
    .
    Hand Checking was prohibited completely by 2000, then the wording was curtailed in 2004 mainly about the use of the forearm

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Ahh definitely. Referees are much more political then they used to be. Which I blame on media / the league.

  • 80

    It is ok, I used that peak value as an illustration, but even if you take overall figures(seasons `88, `84, they still fare better when compared to the numbers in last few years) as i think that noone would watch the stuff he doesn`t want to watch. In the remainder of the text on Nielsen rating you can see that they describe overall decline after jordan retired in `98, which is the general conclusion of my comment

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    2013: Overall, Game 6 earned the second-highest overnight of the year for a non-NFL sporting event. Only the Alabama/Notre Dame BCS title game on ESPN earned better numbers (15.7).

    .

    The Nielsen Ratings of the Superbowl say the same thing, (that the sport was more popular in the 80s, when there was no other choices on TV) – http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/01/18/historical-super-bowl-tv-ratings/11044/

    .
    The NBA has never been this popular. It has never made this much money. It has never been viewed in so many countries.

  • 80

    So you said what i said

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    “Why I say stats are inflated is because less skilled players can score easier in this league.” – less skilled? less skilled then who? this is pretty easily explainable, just tell me what you mean.

    .
    The stuff you just said about stats is so freaking wrong i don’t even know where to start.
    .
    Let’s just begin with this.
    .
    Over time, EVERYTHING advances. Sports/Medicine/Training/Philosophy
    .
    Players have never been this athletic. They have never run this fast. They have never jumped this high. They have never shot this well. In turn defenses have never been this good. The concepts/systems have never been this advanced. Offenses too have evolved tremendously. No longer do teams try and take the first available shot, they try and take the most efficient shot. — Efficiency altogether has been a turning point in NBA philosophies.
    .
    In no way shape or form has any aspect of basketball regressed regarding, overall player skill/athleticism, or team concept/execution.
    .
    The reason scoring is lower, and rules keep changing, is simple. Teams figured out that winning is about defense and efficiency. Not bulk attempts and athleticism.

  • Dfrance

    This all goes back to the stat you posted about scoring pre/post handcheck, when in fact, none of the guys you mentioned played with a hancheck rule that would affect them. It was outlawed in 1994 from baseline to opposite foul line which is exactly where guards would operate.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    hand checking was completely outlawed by 2000 dude.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    What you said is wrong.
    .
    I can show you stats of any player who scores more in his prime then he does when he’s a young kid or veteran. LOL (funny that you didn’t notice that tho).
    .
    Hand checking that involved perimeter players never took place in any of their careers.
    .
    Hand checking in general was completely outlawed by 2000. Again, in 2004, the rule that was CLARIFIED, was about the use of the forearm.

  • Junior Taylor

    Thank you…this is why I love you, NBK. While everyone fails to back up their “NBA is soft” claim with actual numbers, you always seem to have numbers/stats to back up your claims.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk
  • 80

    I would like to know if you take inflation into account, as dollar is not what it used to be…:P
    Increase in population, distribution, marketing, and NBA still cannot reach the best ratings in the US alone posted one decade ago. NFL opening season games have ratings of 17 points, while NBA finals are around 10. Ok there is a larger crowd watching football, than bball, but it proves you can sell “sports” to more people, even if there are more channels, and entertainment in general. What is indicative in NFL numbers is that even though ratings are down, through the years(by a few percent, which is not much compared to NBA standards) number of households is up, which means that there is less registred people per household.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    “I would like to know if you take inflation into account, as dollar is not what it used to be…:P ”

    .

    really? you think infaltion accounts for this,

    .

    Charles Barkley career earning: $40,301,000.00

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/barklch01.html

    .

    Kwame Brown career earning: $61,046,952

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/brownkw01.html

    .
    .
    Come on bro.

  • robb

    Barnes didn’t say it was better, he just said it was tougher back in the day

  • robb

    You know the NBA is softer than before when a guy like Barnes is considered “tough”.

    But seriously I think it’s not that defenses are softer now, I just think defensive players nowadays have better defensive skills than before. For example you have a guy like Laimbeer, that guy didn’t have any defensive skills, he just went and beat the sh*t out of people, that’s not being a good defensive player. You have to be skilled defensively these days, otherwise you’re gonna get ejected, I actually like it, because it all depends on your instincts, precision, athleticism, reflexes and actual skills to defend players nowadays.

    Just my POV.

  • 80

    Allright you can observe the game like that, but then you have to wonder, what are the skills of the offensive players, in this case centers. Who is the best center today in the NBA? Arguably Dwight? Defending against his two and half moves hardly requires great defensive skill.

  • 80

    it is ok, you don`t have to reference everything, i trust your arguments for the most, except when something is unclear, but isnt this salary sheet proving that there is inflation, and that growth is hard thing to measure. For example average nba franchise value has almost doubled since `97, but if you put it into context, inflation has been going through the roof. Just check the gas prices in `97.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Man you can look up inflation and how much it really has affected the value of the dollar. I thought that example would be extreme enough to show inflation is pretty much irrelevant. Just look how much Jerry Buss bought the Lakers for….

  • JC

    I was refering to the comments on this site

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    D-Rose, D-Wade, Pierce, and Deron Williams are pretty strong dudes. And as far as being crafty goes, I can’t think of a player who’s more crafty around the rim than Rose besides Kyrie Irving.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Yes!

  • Conor

    Individual defensive accomplishments have been left a secondary concept within a team. Permanent zone installations are a scourge to the League, imo

  • Conor

    & as a

  • Conor

    Not against certain players.

  • Slick ric

    The game is softer, its indisputable. He knows what he speaks because he ACTUALLY PLAYS unlike you keyboard ballers.

  • Mike From Spain

    Kevin Love? Duh… I stopped reading there… he’s a three point threat and a great rebounder, he gets hacked regularly, he does not drive to the basket and he is as strong and crafty as they come

  • danpowers

    what i dont like today is that guys are giving up so many easy layups when they didnt get there in time to denie a drive. where are all the good old “no easy layup” fouls and why does that always have to be called a flagrant if guys do it today? im not talking about the 80s here, i just got to love basketball by watching the knicks since the mid 90s and compared to that basketball todays game is “softer”, not in terms of contact that may occur, but of mindset the way players handle and inniciate or avoid contact.

    i totally agree tho that this 80s and “back then everything was better” is sheer nonsense.

  • Dfrance

    Part of it goes back to the way the game is taught today at the younger levels. Players are not taught to take a foul to defend the basket, or to try and block shots. Now they’re taught to get in position and try and take a charge. If they can’t do that they generally just concede the shot.

  • danpowers

    i understand that, but still, some of that is just attitude. if you take any points and layups against your defense personal, you will do all you can to prevent others from scoring. even if that means a hard foul. instead it often appears to me, that most guys bother not getting dunked on more than they bother to protect the rim.

    we saw a little too much of that roughneck stuff in the 90s, which was a reason why we had to deal with that ugly low scoring era at the end of the 90s, start of the 2000s. but for my taste nowadays we see too little of it. hopefully officials/league and guys on the court figure out the ballance. that would give us a more entertaining nba

  • Clos1881

    I used to hate watching Derek Harper hand check people full court with the Knicks those games were more like fights and the scoring was terrible of course matt Barnes would say this it would be great for him because that’s his game as a irritant to foul and try and get under people’s skin.

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