The arrogance of sports radio and TV hosts can be jarring at times, and JJ Redick’s presence on ESPN seems to be exploiting that.
Wednesday morning on First Take, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo made the argument that Draymond Green would not be able to make the rosters of the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons or Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.
Fine, you can argue Green wouldn’t have fit on a few of the sport’s historically great rosters. But when Russo took it a step further, claiming Green wouldn’t be able to play in the NBA at all during that era of basketball, Redick was there to push back.
“You’re making the assumption there that players today aren’t better, aren’t more skilled, aren’t more advanced in sort of philosophical ideologies about basketball,” Redick said.
Dog attempting to explain basketball fundamentals to JJ Redick is…something pic.twitter.com/n0n2iYqnsz
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) June 8, 2022
“Fundamentally, they’re not as good,” Russo fired back.
To say Redick was baffled would be an understatement. “Funda…fundamentally. What game are you watching today, Chris? Honestly, what game are you watching?”
I am a staunch defender of the idea that you didn’t have to play professionally to analyze a sport. So Russo can have his opinions about Green. But he’s really going to try explaining basketball fundamentals to Redick, who played four years at Duke and 15 seasons in the NBA?
“Fundamentals is knowing how to play, get good shots, boxing out, taking what the defense gives you,” Russo explained. Good thing he was on First Take to enlighten Redick.
Russo furthered his claim by arguing today’s players aren’t more fundamentally sound than Larry Bird. But Bird is a top-10 NBA player of all time. That’s like saying no one in today’s era of baseball is a better home run hitter than Babe Ruth, so therefore current players couldn’t have played in the 1920s.
Redick explained that although he wasn’t alive to watch the NBA in the ‘60s or ‘70s, he’s still a student of the game and its history. And through his own expertise, Redick has come to the realization that the modern NBA player will never live up to the nostalgia basketball fans and analysts feel for past eras (an argument he’s made before against Russo, drawing backlash from Bob Cousy along the way).
“The nostalgic standard that all of you have set for the ‘80s and the ‘90s NBA, for some reason…in every sport, players continue to get better. But for some reason in the NBA, players in the last 15 years, we’re just not good enough,” Redick said. “We’re a substandard product.”