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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Why The Old School Thinking Of Current Greatness Is Wrong

NBA players whose heyday was 20+ years ago love to shit on the Golden State Warriors. Despite the fact that they are the defending NBA champions, have the defending MVP and reigning MVP, and just won 73 fucking games, these players can’t stop themselves from shitting on this team. Scottie Pippen says his Bulls team would sweep the Warriors in the Finals and Charles Barkley can’t shut his damn mouth about this team. Everyone else vehemently disagrees with these players, because we’re semi-rational and competent human beings, but that hasn’t stopped the mindset of many former players who think Golden State is just a fluke and a flash-in-the-pan versus the dominant Goliath we know they are. The reason many players feel this way is because The Game and how Golden State plays it is radically different than it was when these players were playing it. These players saw what it took to win and that’s drastically and fundamentally different than how the Warriors win. Truthfully, what the Warriors are doing is just different, but these retired players are conflating “different” with “bad”.

What we are seeing in basketball is also true of what we are seeing in baseball. I’m guilty of this as well. I saw the 2015 Kansas City Royals and was just dumbfounded by how they were winning. Even after the Royals won 95 games and first place in the American League, I was convinced that a team like the Toronto Blue Jays, who had a strong rotation and lots of power, was better suited to win the pennant. Cut to a few weeks later and the Royals dominate the postseason to win it all and the Blue Jays are just another asterisk in baseball history.

The initial resistance towards the Kansas City Royals success in 2015 didn’t come from former players like its coming from in basketball, but rather from sabermetricians. As former players have already had their share in the Hater’s Ball sun in the early 2000’s thanks to the success of the advanced metrics revolution, it was now the advanced statisticians to have their say. At the beginning of the 2015 season, PECOTA projected the Royals to only win 72 games and finish in 4th place in the American League Central. Even after a pennant win and forcing Madison Bumgarner to have one of the greatest postseasons in major league history to lose the World Series, the Royals were the sports’ Rodney Dangerfield- getting no respect. Yet Kansas City went on to defy those numbers and earn their first World Series win in 30 years.

Where baseball is now seeing former players sip the Hater-ade is with individual players. Most recently, these players are loving to shit on reigning NL MVP and the sport’s biggest superstar Bryce Harper- who is just trying to make baseball fun again. Bryce Harper is doing his best to challenge baseball’s “unwritten rules” which is great for the game but it’s to the scorn of old fogies like Goose Gossage. Guys like Gossage’s main argument is that “that wasn’t how it was done in my day; therefore, that’s not how it should be done in your day.” It’s the same argument that guys like Charles Barkley are using against the Warriors.

Rationally, of course, this argument is meaningless and warrantless. Just because something was done way, or even has always been done the same way, doesn’t inherently make that was correct or even the best. In fact, it’s that type of thinking that stints progress. But I get where it’s coming from. Generational Gaps will always exist in society. It’s why your parents think your music is terrible and why theirmusic was the best. That same logic applies to sports as well. Charles Barkley and Goose Gossage will always think the game was at its best when they were playing, and that’s fine to think that, but that’s not a good enough excuse to shit on the greatness of the current generation. It’s just different. Things evolve and change and the sports of basketball and baseball have evolved and changed. Maybe the ’96 Bulls would have actually destroyed the ’16 Warriors. Maybe Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would wipe the floor with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. We will never know. But for now, let us just enjoy the greatness while it’s in front of us. 



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