Was Basketball Better in the 1970s?

“Basketball players used to be tougher. They never sat out games to rest.”

“Back in my day, teams used to play defense.”

“Today all the players want to do is dunk and shoot three-pointers. They don’t have any real skills.”

It’s a tired aphorism – former players and fans recalling bygone days through rose-colored glasses. Sure, basketball was played differently forty years ago. There was no three-point line; players wore shorter shorts; and there were just twenty-two teams (by the end of the decade) compared to thirty today. But in many ways, the game was the same. Don’t believe me? Check the tape.

1976 NBA Finals Game 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW28zFycFgM

2016 NBA Finals Game 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-yh0hf7sBU

Here are two clips from NBA Finals played forty years apart: the Boston Celtics squaring off against the Phoenix Suns in 1976 and the Cleveland Cavaliers/Golden State Warriors tilt from last spring. For my money, these are two of the greatest games in NBA history.

In both videos, you’ll see emotional play, passionate players and fans, and moments of heroism. There’s John Havlicek of the Celtics, playing with torn fascia in his right foot, going one-on-one and banking in an off-balance fifteen-footer to put Boston up two in the second overtime of the fifth game of the 1976 Finals. Forty years later, Kyrie Irving took league MVP Steph Curry one-on-one and hit a huge three-pointer to give Cleveland the lead in the final minute of a title-clinching Game Seven.

Just listen to the enthusiasm of the announcers and crowd. Watch the hustle for every loose ball, the tough defense played in both games. There are hard fouls, incredible athleticism, and gutsy performances from all four squads.

So appreciate the NBA’s history without degrading the present product. Oh, and pick up a copy of my new book – Tall Tales and Short Shorts ­– while you’re at it and read more about the modernization of the NBA in the 1970s.


Click https://goo.gl/mFq3aD to pre-order Tall Tales and Short Shorts: Dr. J, Pistol Pete, and the Birth of the Modern NBA

Follow me on Twitter @adamcriblez or by using #70sNBA

Or like the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TallTalesShortShorts/

#1976Finals #JohnHavlicek

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