According to Jerry West, one of the most iconic figures in basketball, the game is much different now than when he played. The former NBA champion believes that despite players not shooting as high of a percentage as they did in the 60’s defense is more emphasized now, making the game much more difficult.
“It’s a different type of game today,” he said when asked why most shooters today do not have the consistency percentage-wise than those when he played back in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. “Coaches really emphasize defense today. They also put more emphasis on athleticism. It’s not only different but a more difficult game.”
West also believes the competition in today’s game is different.
“And then you have a lot of driving from kids who have trouble holding onto the ball,” West said. “So it’s a different kind of game than it used to be. … I don’t understand this, but there seems to be a lot of really poor free-throw shooting, even at the NBA level. And that tells me the competition isn’t very good.”
No doubt the game has changed since West played decades ago and it will continue to evolve. Players have figured out how to use more athleticism and less fundamentals to be successful but the best players have a healthy balance of both.