June 07, 2017

Dr. J and Magic Johnson are wrong; so is Riles

Steph: Would he and
Warriors top all teams
from any era?
Both Magic Johnson and Julius Erving have claimed their early-to-middle 1980s teams would have beaten this year's Warriors with Steph Curry and the rest of the gang.

Magic Johnson: The
greatest ever? Not
likely in today's game.
Maybe, under rules of their era. Today? No. And, under today's game rules, sorry, Pat Riley, but Magic wouldn't rank in the top five. Not a great 3-ball (that shot-put shot would be swatted today), actually not THAT fast, and not that great of a defender. He might work as a point forward instead of a guard.

With the 1985 Lakers, Magic says, who would guard Kareem? I respond, who would be recharging his oxygen tanks, because he would be totally gassed. Michael Cooper would be solid in today's era — he'd play fast and shoot even more 3s while still doing defense. Byron Scott would still be good. Jamaal Wilkes, with lack of rebounding and no 3-ball to make him a stretch 4, along with little defense, would be on the bench today.

James Worthy would have been the interesting one. A decent ballhandler for his size, he was not a great playmaker, shot-blocker or 3-baller. He couldn't have done the stretch 4 either.

The Doctor claims that Moses Malone could run the floor. Not like that, he couldn't. Andrew Toney of "Boston Stranger" infamy might have shot the 3 today with more frequency. Mo Cheeks was not a 3-baller. Neither was Doc. Nor Bobby Jones. And Malone was never a good, nor a frequent, passer out of the post.

One team from way back that just might have beaten today's Warriors? And under today's rules? The 1971-72 Lakers. Huge points differential per game. Wilt was still in pretty good shape, and recognized he didn't need to shoot a lot, but when he did, hit 65 percent.

Jerry West: Would
The Logo & Wilt have
beaten Steph et al?
Picture that team in today's era for this reason. Both The Logo and Gail Goodrich would have bombed the 3-ball today. Keith Erickson and Flynn Robinson would have popped a few. Jim McMillan might have too. Hell, even Magic's coach, might have gone downtown on occasion.

Versus today's Warriors? West, underrated on D, could have gone mano-a-mano with Curry, IMO. Ditto Goodrich and Klay Thompson. Results wouldn't have been perfect, but it would be better than this year's Cavs, from what I see. And, both Steph and Klay would have to play D back on two bombers of their own.

So, this year's team might well have beaten last year's 73-win team. But, the Lakers of that era would have had nobody match up well with Kevin Durant. That said, if he were playing center, maybe Wilt could halfway hang with him. It would be tough.

Finally, for the leprechauns? The 86 Celtics. First, Kevin McHale would be riding the pine with Worthy and some of the Lakers. Robert Parish might have had limited minutes. Dennis Johnson, ditto, as he didn't have a 3-ball.

Danny Ainge? Might have played OK today. He had a 3-shot and was a better defender than is credited.

Larry Bird would still
rock in today's NBA.
Finally....

Larry Legend. Bird would indeed be balling today, with even more freedom. A point forward, a stretch 4 and more.

But, that Celtics team as constituted in 1986? Nobody was as old as Kareem, and it was overall better as a 3-point team, but still would have lost.

But Larry would be rocking.

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