Tantrums overshadow talent

Tantrums overshadow talent
December 08
11:33 2022

As we see superstars like LeBron James, Chris Paul, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant age toward the end of their careers, there are a host of young guns ready to take their places. While I feel the NBA will be in good hands when it comes to talent, I am not sure this next generation of players will be better as far as their toughness.

I feel the need to elaborate a little more when I refer to toughness, because it is a rather subjective term. Plain and simple, I think many of the players in the NBA are as soft as tissue paper. The amount of crying, flopping, entitlement and complaining to referees and media is insane. And all of that is trickling down to the lower levels of basketball.

Now let’s be clear, there was some crying by players, especially superstars, when I was watching basketball as a kid. Nowadays, it seems like nearly every single player cries to a ref about the smallest thing and it’s rather annoying. Even though I am not the biggest fan of his, Draymond Green gave his thoughts on this generation of players on Kevin Durant’s podcast.

“They soft as hell. I’ve found myself trying to talk sh*t to some of these young dudes and they won’t talk,” Green said to Durant. “And they’re like trying to be a friend. That’s what these young dudes do nowadays. I don’t understand it.

“There’s more talent around the league than there’s ever been. From a talent standpoint, the league is in a good space. But as pure basketball lovers, who love competition at the highest level, I think they gotta catch up in that department.”

I actually think Green has a valid point. When I was growing up, you could almost feel the competitiveness through the screen while watching some of these NBA games. Guys on other teams were not friends with one another and winning seemed to be a top priority every game.

Now that the players are making more money than ever; it seems the power dynamic has continued to shift toward the players. In today’s game, the players feel more entitled than ever before, which leads them to feel like they are owed calls or have earned certain calls from the referee. And I hate to say it, but it’s only going to continue going downhill from here and the players will get softer.

Green isn’t the only pro speaking on the younger generation of players. At his Formula Zero camp earlier this year, Damian Lillard spoke about young players and how he wants to help them develop mental toughness and work ethic, especially because they have been praised their entire lives. The adversity they encounter in the NBA is something many of these players have never had to deal with before in their lives.

“It puts them in a position to where those things, it lets them down when they get to a professional environment and their talent can’t get them through,” Lillard said at the camp. “You got to be stable and strong mentally. You got to be sturdy. You got to have something that you can stand on because it gets tough. … I want to help these kids, they got all these followers on Instagram, but I wanna help them have the stuff that is not just a talent.”

Playing professional sports has to be tough; however, because all pro athletes are pampered, it has led to their lack of toughness. I think back in the day, athletes did not have all of the amenities they have now and in essence, it made them tougher.

The whining I see on a game-by-game basis almost makes it unwatchable. Never in the history of the game has an official changed their call because an athlete complained, yet the athletes continue to do so. It’s so bad, I have seen countless fast-break opportunities for the other team because a player was so consumed with the official about a call the player didn’t like.  

The kids see how these athletes act on the court and they emulate that. That negative behavior is causing a lot of issues on the lower level of the game. I remember playing basketball as a kid and we did not cry about any little contact that we encountered on the court. It was sort of a badge of honor to be able to finish a play through a little contact. These players now feel like you are not allowed to play defense on them because any contact they get hit with is automatically a defensive foul.

I am not sure there is a way to get most of the whining out of the game. Luckily, the NBA was able to find a way to eliminate most of the flopping that was going on in the league by issuing technical fouls to those who violate the rule. Maybe the competition committee can look into something similar for all of the crybaby antics that players do right now.

Besides the whining, flopping and entitlement, the other thing that irritates me about the NBA is how touchy some of the players are when they are criticized in the media, especially by former players. It seems that current players take negative criticism from former players as a stab in the back or something. These players have a job to do and if they can’t call it honestly, then what’s the point of having these shows in the first place.  

I get tired of seeing athletes throw a hissy fit at a press conference, or go on social media to blast an analyst for something negative they said about a player. So yes, we have the most talent we have ever had in the league, but we also have to deal with grown men crying all game. That’s a tradeoff that continually leads me to the NFL.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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