Stephen Jackson Critiques NBA Players: 'Y’all Not Playing Defense'

Highlighting defensive standouts in today's offensively driven NBA.

by Nouman Rasool
Stephen Jackson Critiques NBA Players: 'Y’all Not Playing Defense'
© Sean Gardner/Getty Images

In an era where the National Basketball Association (NBA) seems to prioritize high-octane offensive showcases, Stephen Jackson, a former player known for his defensive prowess, voices his concern over the apparent decline in the league's defensive play.

Throughout his career, Jackson was renowned for his emphasis on defense, but he notes a significant shift towards offense in the years following his tenure. Jackson, a seasoned guard-forward who made a name for himself as a second-round pick, has recently pointed out that the NBA's focus has drifted away from defense.

Supporting his argument with compelling statistics, he highlighted a startling contrast: "From 1985 to 2004, there were only eight 60-point games. However, in just the last 13 months, we've witnessed nine." This observation was shared during his appearance on All The Smoke Unplugged, where he also mentioned Golden State Warriors' coach Steve Kerr's concerns about the current state of defense in the league.

Despite Kerr's offensive coaching style, he acknowledges a desire among fans for a balanced display of both offense and defense.

Green's Defensive Tenacity

Jackson praised players like Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors for maintaining a defensive edge in their play.

Green's physicality and defensive commitment stand out in an era less focused on defense, making his efforts more notable than they might have been in previous decades. The NBA's rule changes in 2004 aimed to enhance the excitement of the game by favoring offensive plays, leading to an imbalance that has skewed games towards high scoring and minimized the importance of defense.

Joe Dumars, the NBA Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations, admitted the league recognizes this imbalance and is considering adjustments to restore equilibrium between offense and defense. Reflecting on the league's past, defense was not just a strategy but a hallmark of the game's identity.

Legends like Rasheed Wallace, Michael Cooper, and Michael Ray Richardson exemplified this ethos, with teams like the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" being celebrated for their gritty, defensive-focused play that ultimately led them to an NBA title in 2004.

The subsequent rule changes, aimed at reducing physicality, have led to a game that favors scoring over stopping the opponent. As the NBA evolves, the conversation sparked by Jackson and echoed by other basketball luminaries underscores a growing concern: the essence of basketball encompasses both offense and defense.

The league's challenge will be to find a balance that celebrates scoring while also honoring the defensive skills that have defined some of the game's greatest legends.