With the news that this seasons NBA Allstar ballot will be changing from its previous form (2 guards, 2 forwards and a center) to a new and fashionable 2 guard and 3 front court players. This got me thinking. Is this the end of the NBA big man as we know it? are the days of pounding it down low, backing down your man and finishing strong leaving our game to favour a more european, pass heavy, 5 out offensive game? The answer is that its yet to be seen.
Last seasons champion Miami Heat would suggest that modern professional basketball is changing as they would often favour ‘small ball’ where they would be without a big man. In last years finals they would be running with Chalmers at the 1, Wade at the 2, Battier at the 3, Lebron as point forward at the 4, and Bosh at the 5. Chris Bosh is not a 5! Dont get me wrong Bosh is a great player but he is more known for his feathery touch around the hoop and his smooth mid range jumper. These are attributes not normally associated with a traditional Shaquille O’Neal type center. At the moment Miami is fashionable. At the moment ‘small ball’ is fashionable, even the celtics were trying their hand at it on opening night to match the Heat. Sorry to heat fans but im a traditionalist and I like my point guards to pass, my shooting guards to shoot, my forwards to go to the hoop whilst grabbing rebounds and my centers to DOMINATE the paint on both ends of the floor. Therefore when Dwight Howard recently said he is not a fan of the NBA’s plans to scrap the center position for allstar games i was on his side.
But never fear Basketball fans as Superman is here to save the day. In his brief Laker career he has come under criticism but it has been more of a team issue than a personal one. As against the Pistons the other night he was at his dominant best 28 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. If he can keep delivering those stat lines i think that LA will be just fine this year. Which leads me to explain why the League should not put the center position away as we have got Howard, Hibbert, Monroe, Marc Gasol, Bynum, Chandler, Jefferson and Dunan to name a few. What do these players have in common?(apart from maybe Monroe and Jefferson) they go to the playoffs… A LOT. I will put to you that having a good center is paramount to winning games on the road in the playoffs as they can be an intimidating presence on defense.
We have elite Big men in this league and we should appreciate them. Its good to see a reputable mainstream magazine such as SLAM(see article header) giving centers love and flying the flag for the position. As much as the mainstream likes to think, our game needs these dominant players, it has done for years. Think Wilt Chamberlain, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Dikembe Mutumbo and Shaquille O’Neal. It does still (Howard and Duncan) and it will need them for years to come (Bynum, Hibbert and Monroe). As for Dwight Howard, we hope you keep grabbing boards, dunking the ball and swatting the rock into the 8th row for years to come and everyone will let you off about your freethrows(maybe).
Im done like Gilbert Arenas’s NBA career @speedicus9