Dec 4, 2012, 1:24 PM EDT
It was a different NBA in a lot of ways when Alonzo Mourning suited up. It was a more physical game — you could put a hand on a guy out on the perimeter or body him up inside in a way that draws a whistle now.
That physical play led to emotional outbursts — the kind of thing that draws a quick technical now. That physical play led to some fights, too.
The NBA has cracked down on all of it. Mourning gets why, too. It’s marketing. The NBA is a business, firsts and foremost. Don’t ever forget it.
But Zo — speaking to PBT while promoting the Lincoln car brand, a car his grandfather used to drive — admits he misses the old NBA.
“Image is everything,” Mourning told ProBasketballTalk. “The great thing about this league is we have some great leadership in David Stern and he has expanded the brand, especially globally. Part of that is how we the players conduct ourselves on the court.
“But I’m not a fan of the quicker technicals, they seem to get a bit nit-picky about that. I’m old school, it was more physical, it was emotional, but it was an entertaining brand of basketball. People enjoyed it.
“But the game is in a great place, so they must be doing something right…. I don’ think it’s going t change unless a lot of owners and coaches really push for a change.”
Zo is right. So long as the dollars are flowing the rules that keep players in check on complaining are not going anywhere. Fair or not.
And that’s not the only thing that has changed in the game. When Mourning took the court he battled Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal and a number of other more traditional big centers. Now even Mourning’s Miami Heat — where he is the Vice President of Player Programs and Development — has gone small, with Chris Bosh at the five.
There’s still a place for the traditional big man in the game but what you see now is a reaction to the players that are coming into the league.
“There is still a place for a center in the game,” Mourning said. “If a great center came out right now he would go No. 1 because there are not many out there. They are dinosaurs….
“When you think about it you play from the inside out. The game has changed because the players are more versatile, you have guys like Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowizki and the list goes on and on, they would have been forced to play in the post (in decades past days). The game changed because the players changed. But you still play the game from the inside out. The teams that have won are teams that dominated the paint area in terms of scoring, rebounding, defense and not letting the other teams get their points there. You still have to play inside out.”
Zo adds the Heat did that when they won a title last year, just not in a conventional way — they put LeBron in the post, they had Dwyane Wade slashing into the paint, but they still got their points there. They still won their title inside, not at the arc (the open threes only happen because the defense has to collapse and protect the paint.
Mourning was the No. 2 overall pick out of Georgetown and played 15 NBA seasons. He was a seven-time All-Star, a two-time defensive player of the year and won a ring with the Heat in 2006. But in a lot of ways his career was divided in two parts — before and after he had kidney replacement surgery.
He says he had to adjust and adapt, which is why he started working with Lincoln, a brand trying to reinvent itself. He is driving a 2013 Lincoln MKZ — which he notes has enough headroom for him, no easy feat — and sees the car as the brand turning the corner.
One other thing that seemed to turn the corner in recent games is the Miami Heat defense. Zo still has some street cred with the players and when asked will offer advice and tips to players. And he says that while the Heat have the best record in the East they are just finding their stride.
“It’s early, it’s less than 20 games played, you don’t win championships until June,” Mourning said. “There’s a lot of posturing going on right now, but (the Heat) already have an identity. They are fast paced, they attack the basket and they have a lot of shooters…
“We’re already tough to beat. Once all that clicks, once our defense clicks, we’ll be even tougher to beat.”
Toughness. That is something Mourning knows when he sees it.
Mar 14, 2014, 12:55 AM EDT
The rest of this game went pretty much like this play. This steal and slam was the first two of Russell Westbrook‘s 11 first quarter points as the Thunder raced out to a 14 point first quarter lead. Then they really opened it up in the third quarter, making it a 24-point lead and it…
Mar 13, 2014, 10:36 PM EDT
The Rockets came into Thursday night’s contest in Chicago with the league’s best record since Jan. 1, a 23-7 mark that included a record of 15-3 over the team’s last 18 games. But it’s difficult to bring the necessary energy on a nightly basis, and especially against a fiery Bulls team playing at home, not…
Mar 13, 2014, 9:31 PM EDT
Midway through the second quarter of Thursday night’s contest between the Rockets and the Bulls, Mike Dunleavy set up to try and take a charge against Houston’s Chandler Parsons. It turned out to be not the greatest of ideas, as Parsons inadvertently caught Dunleavy with an elbow above the eye that caused a whole lot…
Mar 13, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
Andrew Bynum looked strong in his Pacers debut on Tuesday, scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action against an undersized Celtics front line. Even with three days off before his team’s next game, however, Bynum is going to be held out on Friday — a game that’ll be played…
Mar 13, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT
The Rockets are in Chicago to face the Bulls in a nationally televised contest on Thursday, and Houston head coach Kevin McHale paid the highest of compliments to the best active player on the opposing team, Joakim Noah. That part wasn’t unusual, as head coaches will often times dole out honest and well-deserved praise to…
Mar 13, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT
“I didn’t touch him. All he did was scream. The ref gave him calls all night because he was screaming.” That was from John Wall talking about Kemba Walker after the Bobcats beat the Wizards Wednesday night. The league is not fond of people questioning their officials’ integrity (regardless of cause) and on Thursday came down…
Mar 13, 2014, 4:09 PM EDT
Coaches are micromanagers almost by nature. They want control, they want to set things up. So in crunch time, when their team needs a bucket, they almost inevitably call a timeout to set up a play. Of course, that also lets the defense make substitutions and set themselves up as well, but coaches want that…
Mar 13, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT
LaMarcus Aldridge is out at least a couple games after a nasty fall, but it looked a lot worse.
Mar 13, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
Steve Nash is honest — yes, he wanted that last year and $9 million. Nash also says the obvious — every one of the people commenting on this site or calling talk shows saying he should not have played 10 games this season (too many to get a medial retirement), that Nash should have walked…
Mar 13, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Portland has lost four in a row and is 7-9 in their last 16 games. In a tight Western Conference, that is trouble — gone is home court advantage in the first round as the hot Clippers and Rockets shot past them. Portland is now the five seed with Golden State just 1.5 games back.…
Mar 13, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT
J.J. Redick has missed more than a month and counting with a bulging disc in his back. He’s a strong shooter and underrated defender – the type of role player the Clippers surely want for their playoff run. Or not? The Orange County Register (hat tip: Matt Moore of Eye on Basketball): The team will…
Mar 13, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT
Underrated moment at the the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and Kings owner Vivek Ranadive were on a panel together, and Ranadive basically accused Boston of tanking. “And what are you doing?” Grousbeck jabbed back. Tanking doesn’t exist (says Adam Silver), but if it did (it does), Grousbeck is having a…
Mar 13, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
With the Bobcats clinging to a three-point lead over the Wizards midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday, Kemba Walker rose for a corner 3-pointer. John Wall appeared to contest the shot cleanly, but the refs called a foul. Why? Wall, via J. Michael of CSN Washington: “I didn’t touch him. All he did was scream,”…
Mar 13, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Evan Turner played his way out of the NBA cellar before the trade deadline. Apparently, the only question was which championship contender he’d join. The Pacers traded for Turner, but reportedly he could have been a Spur. Marc Stein of ESPN: It emerged shortly after trade deadline that San Antonio tried hard to make deadline-day…
Mar 13, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT
A month and a half ago, Magic Johnson pledged to stop complaining about the Lakers. He’s almost kind of sort of barely maybe trying to live up to that. Magic: I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers.— Earvin Magic…
Mar 13, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
The Warriors and Clippers don’t like each other, but it seems the Warriors particularly dislike Blake Griffin. Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut went after Griffin in December, and they successfully got the Clippers star ejected. Bogut even made a point not to apologize. Add Jermaine O’Neal to the list of Warriors who’ve feuded with Griffin.…
Mar 13, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT
No word on when Aldridge will return.
Mar 13, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
To quote Cartman: Respect my authoritah. Blake Griffin basically said that with this dunk. He has broadened his game this season, adding a far more consistent jump shot to go with handles and improved defense (which he showed off all night on the pick-and-roll against Stephen Curry), but the man can still dunk. With authoritah. As…
Mar 13, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
There was no way we were going to get through a PBT Podcast without talking some more about Phil Jackson and the Knicks. So that comes up in the latest PBT podcast with myself and Eytan Shander of NBC Sports Radio. But we spend a lot more time talking other things, such as the slumps of…
- Rockets don’t bring the energy, so Bulls bring the pain in securing a 24-point blowout victory 3
- Interesting stat: Teams score better in crunch time when they don’t call timeout 10
- Blake Griffin with as powerful a putback dunk as you’ll see (VIDEO) 11
- PBT Podcast: What is with the slumps of Miami, Indiana? Plus of course Phil Jackson talk. 5
- Extra Pass: Beyond Phil Jackson, Knicks should see Tim Hardaway as instrumental to their future 8