Basketball then and now

Allan Choachoy (The Freeman) - January 22, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The sport of basketball has evolved so much in terms of fashion, style, physicality, training, skills, talents and drills.

FASHION has played a big part of basketball business. In a professional league, merchandising is an income generating business where sponsors earn from their invesment by selling jersey, shorts, and shoes. Fans always fancy the latest and want what the  players wear or endorse.

 The SHORTS has long been the biggest fashion change in basketball as it changed towards the end of the 80s and so long ago, the shorts of players were really really very 'short'. There may have been reasons why they were made really short. For one, it allows players to move freely without distraction from excess fabric.

 The change started when a kid named Michael Jordan came into the league in the mid 80s.  MJ opted for a baggy short  because he wears his North Carolina shorts inside his Bulls uniform in every game. As the year progresses, shorts became baggier and  longer that some even reaches the knee or below the knee, which look funny already. The jersey has also progress now they have the tight fit t-shirt.

 The BANDANA was inspired by the 'Karate Kid' movie. Kids everywhere want to be like Ralph Maccio. But do you know that in the PBA, only one player from my recollection wears Bandana in every game. His name is Steve Watson, who led the Ateneo Blue Eagles to back-to-back championships in the UAAP in 1975 and 1976. He played for several teams in the PBA including UTEX, Toyota, Gilbey's, Ginebra and Great Taste. That if my memory serves me right.

 HEADBAND and WRIST BAND. Wearing these accessories, one could usually be associated as an aerobic instructor or the  famous Olivia Newton John look “Let's Get Physical”. But do you know that in the PBA, one would refer that kind of look to the 'Black Superman" in the person of Billy Ray Bates, one of the phenomenal PBA import and former draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA. And defense specialist Chito Loyzaga is also an inconic figure of that kind too. Many players still wear the head band  now including NBA superstar Lebron James and Calvin Abueva and Arwind Santos in the PBA. Players still follow that fashion mode, players still sport a wrist band but Jordan changed the trend by moving up to the forearm.

The PHYSICALITY OF THE GAME has also changed. In the 70s and 80s, basketball was more more physical. There were the  so-called 'Bad Boys' of the Detroit Pistons namely Rick Mahorn, Dennis Rodman, and Bill Laimbeer. Charles Barkley maybe was the most famous, a hardcourt bully both in the NBA and the Olympics. Metta Worldpeace, the former Ron Artest, Rasheed and Ben Wallace are the second generation of fearless enforcers. Recently though, these tough enforcers are becoming lesser, thanks to the new rules being applied in the NBA with some heavy penalties.

But most of the teams had their own 'Bad Boy' and oftentimes their role is to protect their star players.  In the PBA, there are a number of 'Bad Boys. First in the list is the late Rudy Distrito, known at "The Destroyer", the  'Bruise Brothers' Ricky Relosa and Yoyoy Villamin. And of course who can forget PBA greats Ramon 'El Presidente' Fernandez, Robert Jaworski and Philip Cezar, all three were very Physical.  Some of the modern day enforcers in the league are Alaska Calvin Abueva, Arwind Santos and Beau Belga.

 TALENTS AND SKILLS. Outside shooting or long range shooting have been the main weapon for every team both international and local basketball. During the 70s and 80s players always have a decent jump shot and then players started to get creative and then came the dunk, alley hoop and etc. When the Dream Team 1 debut in international basketball, there was a surge of  urgency that you should dunk everytime you have a fast break as teams celebrate more with a monstrous jam compared to a simple layup. It maybe a big motivational booster for a power dunk with still the same two points.  The game has changed to a more showtime and fancy basketball. But when the international team started to catch up with the US Dream Team, it opened the eyes of basketball world that nothing beats basic and simple basketball plays as the Dream Team was beaten by simple back door plays, defense and outside shooting.

 That is why our recent NBA champions, the San Antonio Spurs, and the reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors are bringing the basic basketball game and making it simpler.  For me, the Spurs and the Warriors are worth watching. They pass the ball at least four times, patiently finding the open person to take the shot. And they have a good outside shooting team as well. But one very noticeable change though in the NBA is Steph Curry. He defies the physics of basketball. When one looks on how he shoots from the 3- point land, he stays at least at farther and farther away but with the same lethal accuracy. Curry has a shooting release that is so fast that it only takes him four-tenths of a second release a shot and the angle of his 3 point shot is around 50-55 degrees. This higher  trajectory increases the area the ball can go in the ring compared to a flatter 3-point shot trajectory that is around 40-45 degrees, which will make the ring smaller.

 PLAYERS PHYSICAL: Hitting the weight room was a no-no for basketball players before. They were forbidden to hit the gym and do some bench press or lift weights. But now it's part of each player's training and drills.

DRIBBLING SKILLS. I still remember the times when our high school coach would always shout at us, telling us not to dribble and just give the ball to the point guard. You are not the point guard so don't dribble the ball. These method has changed in the international level as position from 1 to 5 should be a able to dribble so that when a trap comes the team with the most agile players can get away with it.  Dribbling has not been part of pre-game warm up but now fans are said to come early in all Golden State Warriors > game just to see the pre-game warm up of Steph curry which include tons of shooting, dribbling  and passing drills. 

 The game of basketball has surely changed from the fashion, physicality, talent and skills but one thing is for sure. The heart   and desire to win never changes. The success of a team, no matter how extensive the training is or how experience the coaches or even the players are, will fail as long as they don't have the passion, the right attitude and dedication to win.

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