Why is the Big O Criticizing Curry?

The past week, Hall of Fame Guard Oscar Robertson took some shots at Stephen Curry, the NBA's reigning MVP and current scoring leader. It's not the first time in history a former player has criticized something about the game in the modern era, but it's curious he would pick a time when Curry and his Golden State Warriors are in the process of rewriting the record books to make his comments. As things stand now, Curry is at the top of the NBA MVP odds list for sportsbooks brave enough to post it.

So why is he saying the things he's saying? The answer is complicated because it has so many layers. However, the comments came off as bitter and warrant a least a little scrutiny. To begin with, it's important to understand that Robertson is NBA royalty. Often mentioned as one of the top six or seven players in league history, people are generally interested in what he has to say.

All Robertson did during his career was win one NBA championship, win one MVP, a 12-time all-star with three All-Star Game MVPs, nine-time All-NBA First Team, 6th on the all-time assist list, 11th on the all-time scoring list and during the 1961-62 season, he became the only player in NBA history average a triple-double with 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. Perhaps more importantly, Robertson sued the league for its reserve clause and became the first player in league history to earn the right to become a free agent, changing the game forever.

However misguided, that kind of career earns the right to speak. At the core, Robertson's comments about Curry being overrated would seem to stem from his possible feeling that he is becoming irrelevant. While it's true he is not the flavor of the day, Curry's accomplishments do nothing to diminished what Robertson did during his amazing career. Nor should Robertson be so quick to try to diminish what Curry is doing. Especially as Curry and the Warriors are well on their way to breaking all kinds of records.

It's nearly impossible to compare the two player's games. At 6'5" and 220 lbs, Robertson was a big physical point guard. Three times, he led the league in rebounding, That's correct. He led the league in rebounding as a point guard. By comparison, Curry prefers to play on the perimeter where he has learned to shoot the ball with deadly accuracy. In fact, his use of the three-point shot to rack up points seems to be a point of contention. In the "Big O's" day, the three-point shot was used as an afterthought, not a weapon. Today, it's an integral part of the game.

Another point of criticism comes from the notion that defenses are soft today. Well yes, teams don't play defense with the same intensity as yesteryear. However, that's hardly the fault of today's players. Rule changes (see hand-checking) throughout the years have opened the game up a bit. Then again, anyone watching Curry play will note how physically defenses are playing him as far as 30-feet out on the court. It kind of looks like the old NBA.

Here's a suggestion for Oscar. You will never be forgotten as evidenced by the fact you were included on the 50th anniversary Best 50-player team. Should you move down a notch on the list because of Curry, it will be because of what he accomplished, not because of anything that you did. Like you, he is changing the game. Your game was being a big man with the skills to dominate the point guard position, aka Magic Johnson. Curry is changing the game by showing how powerful a tool being able to shoot the ball from 30-feet can be. In the fan's eyes and hearts, there is plenty of room for both of you.

It doesn't take an expert to make NBA award predictions and pencil in Curry for another MVP. In fact, any posted NBA MVP odds has him listed as "odds-on" to take the title. NBA award predictions aside, the NBA is an elite fraternity of brothers who share a unique talent. Everyone would be better off if they simply celebrated each other accomplishments.

Comments and Conversation

March 2, 2016

george sarkisian:

February 27, 2016

Oscar Robertson, Isaiah Thomas, Charles Barkley and others have been taking a lot of media heat lately for downplaying the accomplishments of the Golden State Warriors and their 2016 version of the game of NBA basketball along with their god named Stephen Curry.

The problem is, most of those throwing the heat were born with the entitlement gene and received participation trophies in everything from church baptism to writing a term paper without the help of google.

In the 1969-1970, fourteen team NBA, there were an average of 12 men on a team; 168 players in the whole league

In the 2015-2016, thirty team NBA, there are an average of 14 men on a team; 420 players in the whole league

Sixty percent of the players playing today would not have made the roster in 1970.

In 1970, all players were at least 22 years old. (More or less grown men physically and attended college for four years)

In 2016, about 20 percent of the league is less than 22 years old. (Many have only one year of college)

If you are going to tell me that none of the players from 1969-1970 has the talent to play in the NBA today then I am going to say (and they will too) you are wrong.

If you are going to tell me they were not talented and they were not fast, strong, big, and athletic, I am going to say you are wrong.

The world record for the 100-meter run was 11.80 seconds at the 1896 Athens Olympics run by Tom Burke of the United States. Bob Hayes won the 100-meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics on a cinder track in 10.0 seconds. Usain Bolt won the 100-meter run on a composition track surface in 9.63 seconds at the 2012 London Olympics using high tech clothing and shoes. It seems like the speed of athletes improved a lot more between 1896 and 1964 than it has since 1964 up to now.

Jim Thorpe, Jim Brown, Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Marcus Dupree were five of the most athletically gifted North American athletes and football players since 1900. Dupree is the youngest of that group and he was born in 1965. Bo Jackson ran a 4.12 second forty-yard dash at the NFL combine in 1983 or 1984. What kind of dysfunctional training have all of today’s supposed superstar athletes been doing in the last 32 years that prevents them from running faster than Bo?

Man has been walking the earth for thousands of years. If you are going to tell me in the space of 46 years, man has evolved into some superhuman athletic creature, I am going to say you are wrong. Strong, muscular, athletic men built the Egyptian pyramids starting in 2560 B.C. using ropes and levers.

Three hundred years ago, Americans built their homes using the logs of 24-inch diameter trees they cut down with a single bladed ax. They tilled the soil to grow their food with a single bladed plow walking behind a horse or a cow from sun up to sun down. Negro slaves picked cotton and other crops and did manual labor for decades. Do you think these people were not strong and athletic?

What is it about the generation of today that entitles them to think they are biological masterpieces? The NFL even has an ad campaign encouraging youngsters to go outside and play for 60 minutes a day. Imagine having to encourage kids to go outside and play.

If you are going to tell me that Rucker Park basketball legends such as Earl Manigault, Pee Wee Kirkland, Cleo Hill, Julius Erving and others would not have survived in today’s sports world, I am going to say you are wrong.

Imagine how they, and guys like Pete Maravich and Earl Monroe, would have been able to control the basketball if they had the freedom to palm and hold the ball while dribbling as today’s players do? Imagine Wilt Chamberlain being able to take four steps without dribbling the basketball while driving to the basket for a lay up.

I would love to see today’s guards try to get the ball up court against the Bulls backcourt of Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier.

I would love to see today’s guards try to run around with John Havlicek for 48 minutes.

I would love to see skinny Stephen Curry try to guard Oscar Robertson as Oscar is backing him toward the basket for an easy 8-10 foot shot.

I would love to see skinny Stephen Curry try to drive on Bill Russell, Wilt, Nate Thurmond, Dave Debusschere, Wes Unseld, Luke Jackson, Jerry Lucas, Walt Bellamy, Connie Hawkins, Chet Walker, Dave Cowens and Bailey Howell.

I would love to see today’s guards dribble the ball using 1970 rules.

I would love to see today’s guards drive to the basket without traveling and carrying the ball for four steps.

I would love to see today’s guards tell Walt Frazier or Jerry West that they could not guard them, or tell Earl Monroe that he was not athletic.

Jerry West is the NBA logo without the three-point line. Imagine what he would be if he had the three point line?

Take all 420 players in today’s NBA. Put them in the 1969-1970 NBA using the rules of that time. How many would make a roster?

Which of the following players from 1969-1970 could NOT play 2016 NBA basketball if they were born sometime after 1995?

Here are some of the guards from 1969-1970:

Dick Barnett, Walt Frazier and Mike Riordan for the Knicks
John McGlocklin, Flynn Robinson and Guy Rogers for the Bucks
Kevin Loughery and Earl Monroe for the Bullets
Archie Clark, Hal Greer, Wali Jones and Matt Goukas for the 76ers
Herm Gilliam, Oscar Robertson, and Norm Van Lier for the Royals
Don Chaney, John Havlicek, Larry Siegfried and Jo-Jo White for the Celtics
Dave Bing, Eddie Miles and Jimmy Walker for the Pistons

Butch Beard, Richie Guerin and Walt Hazzard for the Hawks
Jerry West for the Lakers
Jerry Sloan and Bob Weiss for the Bulls
Gail Goodrich and Dick Van Arsdale for the Suns
Lucious Allen, Rod Thorn and Lenny Wilkens for the Supersonics
Jim Barnett and Stu Lantz for the Rockets
Al Attles, Jeff Mullins and Adrian Smith for the Warriors

Here are some of the big men from 1969-1970:

Which of the following players from 1969-1970 could NOT play 2016 NBA basketball if they were born sometime after 1995?

Willis Reed and Dave Debusschere for the Knicks
Abdul-Jabbar and Bobby Dandridge for the Bucks
Gus Johnson and Wes Unseld for the Bullets
Billy Cunningham and Luke Jackson for the 76ers
Connie Dierking and Jerry Lucas for the Royals
Bailey Howell, Don Nelson and Tom Sanders for the Celtics
Walt Bellamy, Terry Dischinger and Happy Hairston for the Pistons

Bill Bridges and Lou Hudson for the Hawks
Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Mel Counts and John Tresvant for the Lakers
Tom Boerwinkle, Bob Kaufman, Bob Love, Chet Walker and Walt Wesley for the Bulls
Connie Hawkins, Paul Silas and Neal Walk for the Suns
Bob Boozer and Tom Meschery for the Supersonics
Clyde Lee and Nate Thurmond for the Warriors
Elvin Hayes for the Rockets

George Sarkisian
Investigative Journalist

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