Larry Johnson: Today's NBA Overwhelmed by Three-Pointers

NBA Evolution: Larry Johnson Reflects on Modern Gameplay.

by Nouman Rasool
Larry Johnson: Today's NBA Overwhelmed by Three-Pointers
© Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Delta

In an era where the NBA's landscape is markedly different from its past, former basketball star Larry Johnson, known affectionately as "Grandmama" during his playing days, has shared his candid perspective on the modern game.

In a sports world that seems increasingly fixated on three-point shooting, Johnson's observations highlight a striking contrast with the style of basketball he once embodied. In an interview with The Charlotte Observer back in 2018, Johnson expressed his bemusement at the current state of the NBA.

"The team, the whole NBA has changed, right? You know what I mean, I don’t even understand NBA games now. They’re shooting 3’s, shooting 3’s, just scoring a lot of points and not playing a lot of defense," he remarked.

His comments reflect a growing sentiment among fans and former players alike, who notice a shift away from the defensive and physical play that once defined the league.

Johnson Embraces Change

Despite this, Johnson, a figure celebrated for his fearlessness and athleticism during his time on the court, doesn't harbor any resentment towards the current style of play.

"It’s different to me, but it’s exciting to watch, so I have no beef with it," he said. "As long as the youngsters enjoy it, I enjoy it." This statement underscores a generational shift in the game's dynamics, a transition that is both inevitable and reflective of broader trends in sports.

Another aspect that Johnson pointed out is the lack of physicality in today's game compared to his era. He notes a trend of players avoiding the tough, inside game in favor of shooting from distance. This observation taps into a deeper discourse on the evolution of basketball strategy and the changing nature of athleticism in the sport.

Johnson also criticized the increasing tendency of players to flop, a tactic he views as antithetical to the game's traditional values of toughness and resilience. "Without a doubt, the game was more physical when I played," he said.

"No one practices the inside game anymore and today everyone wants to shoot the ball. Toughness was a mindset. If you flopped, we punished you more." This frank assessment by Johnson is not an isolated view but resonates with the opinions of other NBA legends who have witnessed the transformation of the game over the decades.

It raises important questions about the future direction of the NBA and whether current trends will persist or new ones will emerge. While the NBA continues to evolve, perhaps the best approach, as suggested by Johnson, is to embrace and enjoy the game in its current form. After all, the beauty of sports lies in its unpredictability and constant evolution.