Disputing the Evasive Criticisms Against the NBA

By Thomas Duffy
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I am a huge basketball lover.

Whether it is the NBA Finals, regular season, pre-season, or even down to the summer league, I learn so much about the game by just watching the best players in the world compete against each other for 48 minutes.

I enjoy college basketball, too. I find some validity in the statements of those that believe that the college game is “purer,” than the professionals’. Not every college basketball player is on a nationally ranked team, nor do they all achieve fame, make it to the pro’s, or even play consistently. They receive no compensation for their performance (at least during their time in college), either. They play for the love of the game.

Usually, however, those who believe that the college game is in many ways better than the NBA usually focus more on the faults of the pro’s than on the beauty of the collegiate game. They say that in the NBA, “no one plays defense,” or (my personal favorite) “those guys only play for the money.”

Well, I would like to prove those two statements, among other exaggerated stereotypes about the NBA, wrong.

The first statement about “no defense,” did actually have some truth to it for a while in the early-mid 2000’s, or so I thought. But to those that think no effort is put into defense in today’s basketball, please just watch a game. Start to finish–an entire NBA game.

After watching a game, it would be downright ignorant to say that there is a lack of defense in the highest level of basketball in the world. There are two sides of the ball, and these players would not have reached the highest of highs (in basketball standards) if they were defensively deficient.

Watch a team like the New York Knicks play defense, especially the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler. He takes charges, he blocks shots, he alters shots, he picks up defenders that aren’t his man, he rebounds, he leads his team and he exudes downright disgust when the opponent scores.

Players like Chandler (Joakim Noah, Kevin Garnett) discourage the notion that there is no defense in the NBA. The reason that games are ranging from around 105-91 points in 2012-13 is because of the improved skill and outrageous athleticism in today’s young players. You can teach someone how to shoot, pass, dribble, etc. You can also teach someone proper defensive stances, but actually playing defense is all about heart and effort.

And there is no shortage of it in today’s NBA.

The other popular notion that I want to prove wrong is the one that discusses how players “only play for the money.”

It is no secret that college players receive no payment, and NBA players on average receive a salary of $5.15 million (as of the 2011-12 season). However, also consider this: these are men; they aren’t basketball machines or robots. They are husbands, boyfriends, sons, grandsons, nephews, uncles, friends, etc. They are giving up a huge part of their year to be able to maintain a career in hoops. Is the money a big draw? Yes, absolutely. However, the sacrifice is extremely great, as well.

The season goes from early fall to about early-mid summer, and the time that is spent traveling, in the gym practicing, playing games, doing interviews, lifting weights, going to team functions and everything else in the life of an NBA player could have also been given towards bonding time with family and friends. How often do you think Kobe Bryant see’s his family during the season?

These players, coaches and everyone else involved in the NBA give up a lot, and I realize that they receive a lot, as well, probably more money than they should, but that’s a different story for a different day. I would just like to take a moment to appreciate everything that they sacrifice for the love of the game.

So, there you have it. NBA players play for the love of the game, just like college players, and even play defense. If you’re an NBA fan like me, you already knew that, and if you didn’t, then go watch a game and learn something.

Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for articles, news, and all things NBA.

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