It’s no secret the NBA has undergone a drastic transformation from a league of true bruisers to a bunch of AAU babies. Gone are the days of Ron Artest running into the stands to beat the hell out of a heckling fan. Gone are the days of Kevin Garnett making fun of Charlie Villanueva because he had a hair loss condition completely out of his control. Gone are the days of Latrell Sprewell putting his NBA sized mitts around the neck of his head coach in practice and effectively choking the shit out of him. We’re in an age now where elite players leave their old teams to join the one that beat them the previous year. An age where the highest level of trash talk happens not on the hardwood, but on Twitter from teams social media coordinators. There’s a new trend starting to happen around the league now that has caught my attention. Players now get mad when an opposing team or player “disrespects” them by running up the score or taking a late three pointer or the like. There have been two instances just this past week alone.
First, with the Warriors up by about a bajillion points over the Wizards with mere seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Warriors backup center JaVale McGee shot a three pointer with 4.8 seconds left because the shot clock was expiring only to be shoved to the ground by Wizards guard (another backup) Brandon Jennings. Jennings received a flagrant 1 for the play. Via ESPN:
“Yep, totally agree,” Wizards guard John Wall said when asked whether the Warriors treated the game disrespectfully in the closing minutes. “Whenever a team is up like that, supposedly, you just hold the ball and take a shot-clock violation. So, what Brandon did, I don’t think it was dirty. I think it was the right play. You don’t let nobody try to embarrass you and I think that’s what they were trying to do.”
You don’t let nobody try to embarrass you? You lost 139-115. Might be a bit late for that. You know what’s disrespectful? Raising ticket prices for the playoffs so your fanbase can watch a team that gave up 139 points in 48 minutes. I mean do I love the fact that JaVale McGee shot a three as the shot clock expired? No. I strongly dislike the Warriors and everyone knows you let the shot clock expire in that situation. But to get so hurt for something that has zero impact on the outcome of a game is kind of ridiculous to me. Take your loss and let them be immature and focus on how you’re not going to give up 139 points again in the future. This is the NBA. You don’t like it? Play better. Simple as that.
Then just days after that the Raptors and Pacers squared off in what turned out to be Lance Stephenson’s first home game since rejoining his former team. Shit hit the fan after he added another layup with 3.3 seconds left in the game with his team already winning by 16 points. A melee ensued as the game came to a close and three players received technical fouls. Now maybe adding an emphatic basket in the games closing seconds is a bad look. But it was Stephenson’s first game back in Indiana. Emotions were running high. They’re fighting for their playoff lives. But here’s the kicker…they were losing by 19 points in the first half. NINETEEN. Your team is losing 45-26 in a crucial game. You end up with a double digit lead with the crowd going absolutely crazy in the fourth. It’s not disrespect as much a celebration. When NBA teams win the championship should they still have confetti pour down? Wouldn’t that hurt the losers feelings? Athletes getting paid millions and millions of dollars and they’re complaining because they feel disrespected because they squandered their opportunity to win.
But doesn’t this go against my initial point that players were tougher a few years ago? Shouldn’t I want to see reactions after a player feels disrespected? No. I just can’t see Kevin Garnett shoving someone because someone poured on a layup in a blowout. Mostly because I can’t envision a team with Garnett having that kind of lackluster effort that would put them in such a position in the first place. I also can’t see a team that would be stupid enough to test them like that knowing that future payback would be unpleasant to say the least.
The thing with these incidents is that there are other ways to show your pride and not get disrespected. How about play defense? You’re still allowed to block the three pointer or guard that final layup. Just because the game is decided doesn’t mean it’s technically over until the clock hits :00 right? Or you can play better earlier? Not blow a huge lead? Not give up a bajillion gazillion points? Something?