Ask NBA fans whether today’s motion-heavy play is better than the iso-heavy style of the 2000s and you will get an argument that could possibly last for days. Portland Trail Blazers big man Pau Gasol has made it clear that he’s more of a fan of the latter.
Gasol didn’t hide his sadness at what the game has lost over his long career. He went so far as to say that the game lost its “beauty” in his eyes.
“It has changed a lot,” Gasol said, per Uproxx’s Bill DiFilippo. “For me, the big change is the game itself. There are very fast shots, very short possessions, few passes in each attack. There are many hasty shots. When I was younger, some of the shots that are attempted today would have seen the coach send you to the bench as a punishment.
“Now it is encouraged to shoot in the first eight seconds of possession. It has lost the beauty of the game, the purity it had, the fact of moving the ball from one side to the other, the ball inside-outside, which was to play with two in the post. Now there are times when there are teams that play with five small guys. [Mario] Hezonja played the other day as center with us.”
Gasol came into the league in 2001, and it was a time where hero ball was the name of the game. Players like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan were the talk of the town. Passing was made often, and big men doing work down low was as important as the guards sinking threes.
The Spaniard isn’t the first person to have made the observation about the state of the game. However, his opinion matters because he saw how the league evolved throughout his career. He also pointed out that the game’s focus on speed is similar to how society has evolved as well.
Like all movements, the small-ball focus is going to eventually slow down. Nonetheless, it’s unlikely that the elder Gasol will still be around to see the trend end.
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