Posted by zbrent716 on 7/14/2012 1:53:00 PM (view original):
Posted by isack24 on 7/14/2012 10:31:00 AM (view original):"Larry Bird wasn't as talented as any of these guys on the current team. But he was still better because he was fundamentally sound and plays the game the way it was supposed to be played," Worthy said. "There's not a lot of one on one. LeBron wouldn't have as much success playing one-on-one game against Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. He' be met at the rim. It just doesn't happen.... Guys were defensively minded and I don't see that as much in today's game."
I'm not knocking Jordan's defensive abilities, but I don't know why he would deserve the benefit of the doubt that he could guard guys who are totally different and/or better than any of the guys on that list.
Why don't I think he could guard LBJ? For the same reason that everyone says LBJ couldn't guard Jordan. Because they are unguardable given their size, speed, strength, talent, and the way they get calls (and yes, Jordan got all the calls LBJ gets and more).
Why don't I think Jordan could guard Durant? Size and speed. Jordan could be the best defender in the world, but at 6''6" there's nothing he can do.
Putting aside for the moment the talent comment (I think he means athletic) and the "way it was supposed to be played" part, this comment illustrates something some of you are missing. Let's say, for the moment, that Jordan couldn't guard (for ex.) Durant (not sure I agree, but whatever) - this is perhaps relevant in today's game, where you beat your man and then are rewarded with a highlight dunk as everyone gets out of the way at the rim. That's not how the Dream Team played.
IF you get past Jordan (or whoever) on the perimeter, you have the likes of Ewing and Robinson waiting at the rim. They can erase a lot of defensive "mistakes" on the outside. Finally, Jordan and Pippen were all-world defenders with Bill Cartright, Will Purdue, Luc Longley, and Bill Wennington behind them. Their actual level of defensive intensity is more-or-less unmatched in today's NBA; what they would do to today's players knowing they could be super aggressive and have some of those mistakes nullified at the rim? The present-day players might adjust somewhat eventually, but right now they're simply not prepared for it.
I don't think James Worthy has any better perspective than anyone else, and likely has a bias. I don't know that I've ever heard anyone speak ill of the era in which he played.
I drafted a long post about why James and Durant are unguardable by anyone we've run across in our basketball lives, but it's pointless because someone will just say "of course Jordan could make up the five inch difference," or "it doesn't matter that James is twice as strong and fast as Larry Bird and is unstoppable going to the basket and is arguably one of the best passers ever," and neither of us can prove otherwise.
I'll respond directly to your post. The problem with that reasoning, which I acknowledge makes sense in the abstract, is that one of the major reasons the lanes are more open these days is the prevalence of the high pick-and-roll. That is a relatively recent phenomenon. Ewing and Robinson wouldn't be sitting by the basket. They'd be forced out to the perimeter. Your statement about adjustments is absolutely correct, but that goes both ways. Those guys never played defense 20 feet from the hoop, and now they wouldn't have a choice. Pulling those guys away not only opens the lane, but it forces them to actually guard the perimeter, which I don't think Ewing, at least, would do well. My overall point is that adjustments go both ways, and the current NBA players actually have perfected a play which cuts directly into the heart of the DT's strength on defense.
But again, I want to be clear; I don't think 2012 would win a series, but I think it would much closer than most of you believe.