During a recent broadcast, former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said that Warriors superstar Stephen Curry was "hurting the game", because kids were trying to emulate his unique skillset instead of learning to play the game the "right" way. There's a whole other thread (and countless more out there) to discuss Mark Jackson's coaching philosophies.
We're not here to talk about his opinions, we're here to talk about yours. Specifically, guys you can't stand.
You see, there's a larger theme at work here. Why does Mark Jackson seem to throw shade at Curry all the time? I'd like to present the hypothesis that it's because Jackson isn't accustomed to a point guard (or player or offense) that shoots the ball from deep, early and often, the way the Curry (and the team as a whole) does. Because that's not how Jackson likes basketball to be played.
That made me think about guys that didn't play the way that I like. Not because they didn't have the ability, but because of how they played the game. Guys that make me cringe when they enter the game. Instead of naming names, I decided to use a few (over-simplistic) categories of these guys, and each offers their own unpalatable contributions to us, the viewers.
In other words, these are the players that might "hurt the game."
The Black Hole
These are the guys that stop the offense. They get the ball, and you know it's going to the hoop... triple teams be damned, and much to the chagrin of the their open teammates that haven't touched the ball since joining the team. These players usually share a particular skill: the ability to get a shot off, and there is a value in that skill. A few times a game, and more often in the postseason, defenses clamp down and shots can become scarce. However, they overuse that skill, when they should be working on including their teammates in the game.
Instead, no one wants to play with them after two seasons.
On offense or defense (or both, for the truly gifted), actor-athletes that fall down without contact or charge headlong into the teeth of a defense screaming, with no intentions of doing anything except for running into somebody and throwing the ball in the air. If they don't get the call, they always have the same incredulous look on their faces... the look of a wounded free throw hunter. These are the guys that have weaned themselves away from actually trying to make a shot, and rather absolutely depend on whistles to be any good at all. Which means more free throws.
Hurray for free throws.
The Free Throw Allergic
Again: hurray for free throws.
I've never been an advocate for applying different rules because of a player's ability to overwhelm... but I might be willing to make a different rule for players that continually underwhelm. Some of these guys really, really need to focus on their free throw shooting just a little bit more.
Guys that continue to shoot under 60% from the free throw line should only be allowed to make 10% less. Or if you miss 10 free throws in a game, you have to pay everyone's parking. Or a league mandated $1,000 fine per missed free throw, donated to the memories of all those rims lost to the infinite bricks, eroding their former will to hold up the nets like a orange leather 29.5 Spalding water torture.
It's bad enough having floppers and stars drawing whistles; do we really want to watch a bunch of dunking shot blockers shooting over 30 free throws a night? Commercials don't even want to be a part of that.
Fine, I'm old. I know the kids don't really say "spaz" anymore, but you know what I mean. These guys run around, throwing body parts all over the place, completely out of control. I like it in moments, like when Bogut defends the inbounds, but it drives me nuts when it's a player's top skillset. Players get injured, things get chippy, and the hated zebras with the whistles get involved yet again.
I do appreciate the effort, and sometimes these guys develop into more, especially the defensive spaz. I suspect that's because being a spaz can distract your opponent. Being a spaz on offense, however, is tougher to compensate for.
First off, I like a lot of the enforcer-type players. After decades of watching the Warriors get bullied by everyone else in the league, I always coveted those "mean" players. I feel like we finally have a few of those guys, and I like it. However, I know a lot of fans really hate when a guy gets put in to push people around and make the game miserable.
Similar to the spaz, the goon causes whistles, injuries, fights, and free throws. However, he doesn't do it with the recklessness of the spaz. No, he's a crafty vet. He grabs your arm on screens, pushes his hips back when he boxes out, tugs your jersey at all times, and exacts a toll on your body and psyche every time you're in his vicinity.
The Thug Prima Donna
This isn't because of what they do on the court, it's about them in real life. They don't hurt "the game" as much as the league, but many fans have a strong disdain for these players. Nothing worse than dealing with someone who has a ridiculously inflated self-worth, especially when they are having regular encounters with law enforcement. Many get in fights with coaches, teammates, fans, and/or women, as though a crossover is a "get out of jail free" card that never expires. Oftentimes, their egos and mishaps end up with them turning down the wrong deal, and they disappear into prison or overseas, only to resurface a decade later as a "Look who's destitute now" story on TMZ.
The Humble, Underpaid, All Time Best Shooter, Champion, MVP, Family Man
If you're a deep thinker, it's very easy to see how this player hurts the game. He barely shoots free throws and never complains about anyone or anything. He doesn't talk trash and doesn't defend dirty. He actively promotes his family and teammates, but forgets about the genius who taught him everything he knew when he gave his MVP speech.
He leads the league in scoring, but he's so efficient that he does it while getting his teammates even more shots than they had last year. Last night's game against the Kings was a perfect example. Curry got his, putting up a triple double in just 30 minutes, but was nowhere to be found in the fourth quarter yet again! I mean, the guy is only averaging 6.6 minutes per 4th quarter in the 22 occasions this year he has managed to contribute to his team in the closing minutes. That's by far the lowest minutes played for any of the league's top 50 fourth quarter scorers (Curry's 7.3 points is tied for 2nd), and doesn't even account for the eight times this season where Steph didn't even help in the fourth.
Talk about a disappearing act!
Thankfully, we had a strong foundation laid down by the previous coaching regime to guide us and help the team and it's fans overcome the damage he's doing to the game.
And they might want to cut down on the ball movement. That probably hurts the game too.
As you can see, there's still plenty to complain about in the NBA, even if you're a Warriors fan.