Ahh. 1990s NBA basketball. It was the best of times.
While we still love today’s NBA, there was something special about the 1990s version of the league. There are a few things we miss today about the game of the ‘90s. Here are four.
Think back to any 1990s NBA playoff series, especially the big rivalries. The Bulls and Knicks, for example. Maybe even an early ‘90s Bulls-Pistons playoff series. There were plenty of real fouls in those types of games. You know, fouls where bodies ended up laid out on the floor.
In today’s game, a hard foul like that puts players down is more likely to be called flagrant. In the ‘90s, the whistle blew, some smack talk surely was heard, and someone went to the free throw line. In today’s game, the officials gather, call flagrant fouls, and eject somebody while fans in the stands sit and wonder why games take so long.
The Mid-Range Jumper
Of course, Michael Jordan was the king of the mid-range jump shot. He would lean in, pull up, elevate, and shoot over anyone. The 3-point shot, which we’ll get to in a minute, was not king in the 90s. Player after player shot 15-, 18-, and 20-foot jumpers.
Today’s game is a plethora of step-back jumpers from behind the 3-point arc. Everybody launches them. So much so that the mid-range jump shot is almost lost in the shuffle.
As mentioned, many NBA teams these days build their entire offense around the 3-point shot. Teams dribble and drive in the hopes of attracting help defense which allows for a kick-out to an open shooter behind the 3-point line.
The 1990s game was not built that way. Teams didn’t shoot as many 3s back then making the shot a bigger deal. When Steve Kerr or John Paxson drilled a 3-pointer, the Bulls’ crowd went crazy because it was a rarity. Today, a 3-pointer is just another jump shot.
Jordan & The Bulls
Jordan and the Bulls were just soooo good. Jordan averaged 30 points a game shooting mid-range jumpers. The Bulls won six championships and many forget they were one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Today’s game is still worthy of watching, but it will never be the ‘90s.