Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Category

We all remember the greatness of Michael Jordan, the homerun power of Hank Aaron, or the finesse of Gail Sayers. I was having a conversation with a friend awhile ago about how Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant are far superior to Michael Jordan. He strongly disagreed with me, and so the debate went on. He is a hard headed sports nut so we ended up agreeing to disagree. Ever since this discussing two months ago this idea has been in my brain trying to come to my own personal resolution. In all of my reflections I have come to the conclusion the athletes today are superior to the athletes we idolized as kids.

I placed the athletes of old and tried to imagine what would happen if they played their sport today. I did a similar examination and placed the current athletes and placed them in the past. The only area where athletes of old surpassed our current athletes is in the toughness of the football players during the sixties to mid eighties. This is still up for debate; would they be able to take the punishment our current players endure? Here is my breakdown. 

  • Baseball: Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are considered some of the greatest homerun hitters of all-time. Even though their records were broken, many people demand an * be used behind the name of Barry Bonds who took over as the single season homerun, and career homerun leader due to his steroid use. If Hank Aaron were to face the pitchers of today I would imagine he wouldn’t even hit half of his career homerun totals. Babe Ruth would not even hit five homeruns in a season facing the starters we have currently. These pitchers throw a variety of pitchers which were not even known then. The pitches have more speed, and more movement. On the flip side hitters like Joe Mauer would amass an unbelievable amount of hits and homeruns were he to face the pitchers of old. Our current players are far superior to the athletes of old.
  • Basketball: The greatest of all-time is said to be Michael Jordan, and the players of his time like Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird are considered the greats. I can guarantee you if you were to thrust Jordan into today’s game even in his prime he would not have won six championships. If you were to place Kobe Bryant or Lebron James the success they would have would be indescribable. To take this a step further if you were to throw a mid-level player from today such as Richard Jefferson he would have been Michael Jordan. I do not think the mid-level players of old such as Horace Grant or Steve Kerr would have even been drafted by an NBA team today.
  • Football: There was a defensive end Jack Youngblood who played for the Rams. He broke his leg during a playoff game and continues to play with a broken leg the rest of the playoffs. In the late eighties early nineties Emmit Smith played an entire game with a broken arm. I cannot see players today staying in games with such injuries. These guys were tough SOB’s, but they were also not playing against players who are faster, bigger, and stronger. I look at Youngblood and wonder would he have made the Hall of Fame if he had to try and get to the quarterback playing against linemen like Joe Thomas, or Steve Hutchinson? Would Jerry Rice be a legend if he was covered by players like Charles Woodson? I think the answer to these questions is no.

The athletes of today are bred to be stars from the moment they show any level of talent. In basketball they have camps and leagues where the best of the best play to hone their craft. Lebron James was being covered by the likes of Sports Illustrated when he was only 13 years old. If you were to have a college football team of today play one of the great teams of old the college team would probably come out with a victory. I think we want to remember the athletes we grew up idolizing are the greatest of all time. The problem is the game has changed and involved in so many ways the greats just wouldn’t even stand out.