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Billups: "And1 basketball… messed up the game"

Mar 22, 2010, 4:41 PM EST

Thumbnail image for Billups_game.jpgChauncey Billups is old — 33, which by NBA standards borders on being a grandpa.
And like any old guy, he knows in his bones the current generation just doesn’t get it, how to play basketball the right way (like he does). Nobody is teaching these kids right. He told Mike and Scott on 104.3 the Fan in Denver as much.

It starts young. You got to get these kids to understand the fundamentals of the game, to understand that it is a team game and not about one guy scoring 20-40 points. It’s about the team effort, the team effort and the camaraderie. You got to start those learning experiences young. Because the And1 basketball that broke the scene six or seven years ago messed the game up. That’s not basketball. That’s fun and that’s cool when you go to the park… I think so many times, the young players today, think that 25 points is dominating the game. 25 points is not dominating the game. That might mean you are scoring. But that’s only one facet of the game. Are you getting stops? Are you getting rebounds? Are you going after loose balls? Are you stopping their man from getting 25? You know, little stuff like that.”

The game is evolving somewhat, but that’s healthy. And it’s not really the fault of And 1, which is really just a logical extension of playground basketball and the parade of dunk highlights on SportsCenter nightly in an evolving media and entertainment landscape. It’s also not a shock that the youth want to do the fun thing and not practice the fundamentals, John Wooden fought the same fight (just ask Bill Walton), so did the man who taught Wooden the game. Naismith’s kids probably practiced trick shots first.

And yet, every generation, fundamentally sound players emerge in the NBA. They are plenty in the league now, although many of the younger ones come from Europe. But American born players evolve into those fundamental players that Billups loves. Kobe Bryant was a brash, gunning dunker, now he is as fundamentally solid as anyone in the league. And that is the pattern, guys learn. And the ones that learn best get rings.

Like Mr. Billups.

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