People like to go back and look at older players and say well...they could never have played in today’s game. What’s the term - recency bias?
And to some extent it’s true. JJ Redick’s criticisms of Bob Cousy earlier this year were unfair and lacked grace, but he wasn’t wrong: Cousy was not built for the modern NBA. You could look around and find plenty of other guys who couldn’t make it today. George Mikan comes to mind, among others.
But there were quite a few that would have figured it out. Bill Russell would have. Wilt Chamberlain was the strongest player in NBA history and had sprinter’s speed and a 50” vertical - and he was 7-1. He’d have figured it out. Actually, people today would have the same problem that people in his day had: he was a beast.
One guy who people always say was too slow and blah blah blah was, of course, Larry Bird.
But Bird had qualities that transcended eras: immense basketball intelligence, hugely competitive, tough as nails and he outworked everyone. And while he wasn’t the fastest guy in the league, Bird moved the ball with lightning speed.
In this video, some of Bird’s contemporaries and guys who played more recently explain why he would have starred today too. One of the smartest comments comes when Luka Dončić’s name comes up. If anything, he’s slower and less athletic than Bird was but obviously he can play. Well, if he can, there’s no reason why Bird couldn’t.
One warning about this video: there is a fair amount of NSFW language, so if you’re at work or young ears are around, you might want to put on some earphones.