NBA all about the individual now

Mike Miller

Mike Miller

The NBA has been known to not have the greatest basketball. A lot of times it is more about the show, and it does not have as much defense compared to college basketball. The WNBA has been known as the game with athletes that play with “heart”. It is not always about the big contract signings and endorsement deals. The NBA this year has proven that one person out of five on the court can dominate the game of basketball.

Currently, three players in the NBA are averaging more than 30 points a game this season: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Only six times in the 59 years of the NBA have three players averaged more than 30 points a game.

Bryant scored only 39 points this last Sunday versus the number-one team in the league, the Detroit Pistons. A week before, Bryant dropped 81 points on a helpless Toronto Raptors team, one of the worst teams in the league. Bryant only scored 26 points in the first half, but erupted and dropped 55 points in the second half. He shot the ball 46 times and converted on 28 of those attempts. He went 7 for 13 from behind the arc, and 18 for 20 from the charity stripe.

Scoring 81 points in a game only put Bryant second all-time. The leader, Wilt Chamberlain, scored 100 points in one game back in the 1961-1962 season. During that season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points a game. Throughout a span of 80 games, Chamberlain scored a total of 4,029 points, 835 which were free throws.

Bryant’s 81 points proved that a player can overshadow two teams. The Seattle Sonics and the Phoenix Suns played an incredible game the night Bryant scored 81, but nobody talked about their game. The team combined to score 301 points, 152 and 149 respectively. Seattle earned the victory.

With Bryant, Iverson and James having stand-out seasons, do they make the game look like it’s heading in the wrong direction? Is the NBA becoming a league where you have ball hogs or a go-to-guy?

I personally think it is cool that the three players have been doing so well because it gets people in the seats. When any of those three come to any arena, they are the ones the crowds want to see. The NBA is becoming more of a show than a game where winning is what actually matters. It seems like players are out on the floor to make a name for themselves more than to win a title. Players are always trying to outdo each other. Who can jump higher? Which one can look better on the court? Who can make the bigger play? The game at the NBA level is not near as competitive as college basketball. If college athletes were to start getting paid, as proposed previously, I believe collegiate basketball would head in the same direction as the professional level.

So, over time, will the NBA ever get back to the game it used to be, or will it keep heading in the direction where endorsement deals and big contracts attract athletes? Adidas dropped Bryant as a client earlier this year due to his off-court actions a couple of years ago. Nike picked up Bryant and gave him a shoe deal. Look at him now. After his outstanding performance the other night, he might have actually brought his reputation back as an athlete. However, does this show that the Lakers are so dependent on one player that without him they cannot win as a team? The Lakers are nothing without Bryant. The Heat are nothing without Dwyane Wade or Shaquille O’Neal. The Bulls of the 1990s could have easily won as a team without Michael Jordan. So the game has changed a lot and maybe not necessarily for the better in some perspectives. However, a lot more “ooos” and “ahhhs” can be found now then before.

#1.884540:51327780.jpg:mikegray_tc.jpg:Mike Miller, Ball Talk:Ty Carlson