Did they understand the hidden game of basketball better in the 1960s?

Posted on June 1, 2011 by


This is the question that Ty Willihnganz – of the Courtside Analyst – asked a few days ago.   And I meant to post a link, but… well, I got busy.  But if you are looking for a break from thinking and reading about the NBA Finals, consider the argument Ty is advancing.

In the 1960s, Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics won multiple MVPs and was generally considered the game’s best player.  He had virtually no offensive game to speak of.  I sometimes contend that if Russell played today, with his awkward offensive skills, ESPN’s public opinion makers would persuade the public to believe Russell was an ordinary player of questionable value. My hunch is he would be viewed today in the same light the public views Tyson Chandler or Marcus Camby.

Even less likely to draw critical acclaim today would be former Bullets C Wes Unseld. Yet in 1968-69, Wes Unseld won both the ROY and MVP. Such a feat by a player of Unseld’s obviously limited offensive skill would be unthinkable today. Unseld was slow and he couldn’t hit the broad side of a Winnebago with his outside shot. Plus his Usage rate was lower than Luc Moute’s. Yet Unseld was an incredible win force because he was efficient with his shooting and very productive in most every non-scoring department. Somehow the press saw his value in 1968-69m, but there is absolutely no chance they would see it in 2010-11. He would be even less appreciated than Kevin Love.

Has our understanding of the game gone backwards?

In the wake of Derrick Rose’s MVP selection I have been wondering: has our understanding of winning basketball gone backwards since the 1960s? Did they intuitively understand the hidden game better then than we understand it now? Maybe to a certain extent they did. Consider the following.  READ MORE AT THE COURTSIDE ANALYST…