You heard it when LeBron James went to Miami. You heard it when Golden State won 73 games. You hear it a lot.
My era was better than this era.
That’s the common refrain among former players and coaches. But blanket statements such as that don’t do justice to either era.
“Well, obviously we feel our era was unbelievable,” three-time NBA champion Byron Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “The rivalries was much more true then than it is now because we really did hate each other. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the summer (hanging out with opposing players) like a lot of these dudes do now. But i’m not going to take away from what these guys are doing now. These guys are playing great basketball. This new era of basketball is fun to watch, it’s very exciting, and I think the fans enjoy it as well. So I enjoy watching the playoffs now. It’s a lot of excitement, and you’re seeing some rivalries that are being formed. It’s an exciting time for the NBA.”
Scott, who won three titles with Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers, believes some of today’s players would have been natural fits in the 1980s.
“Oh, there’s a few of them,” Scott said. “LeBron James is one obviously. Russell Westbrook, with the way he plays, is another. Those two guys, I just thoroughly enjoy watching play because they play the game the right way and they play with the passion and the desire that you want to see guys play with and that heart. So I really enjoy watching those two guys play.”
Indeed, James and Westbrook are throwbacks. They’re ultimate competitors who want the ball in their hands, who have rivals, who have animosity for other teams and players. They would have fared just fine back in the day.
“Oh, no doubt about it,” Scott said. “Those are the type of players that you want to play with and the type of players that you even enjoy playing against because you know they’re playing for all the right reasons. Those are two guys that I would pay to go see play today every day.”
Scott, who led the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals as a coach in 2002 and 2003, was also asked about his relationship with Jason Kidd. The two feuded during their time in New Jersey and haven’t been the best of buds ever since.
Scott, though, said everything is fine.
“We haven’t had a feud,” Soctt said. “That was years and years ago. That’s water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. I’m very happy for Jason. I think he’s done a terrific job in Milwaukee, and he’s got those guys headed in the right direction. He’s got one of the best probably unknown players in the world in The Greek (Giannis Antetokounmpo) – because I’m not going to attempt to try to pronounce his name – but he is a terrific basketball player, and Jason has done a terrific job in Milwaukee. Again, I harbor no animosity toward Jason or anybody else. I want him to do the best that he can, and I wish him all the best of luck (not only) in this playoffs but for the rest of his coaching career as well.”