Sports analysts often tend to compare players who have played in different eras throughout history. Whether it’s the NBA with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant or the NHL with Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby, there are always comparisons.
In this article I will be focusing on how you can compare current players in the NBA and NHL to players of the past.
There are many differences in today’s game that several NBA greats may not want to admit to.
Technology has massively improved in the 21st century. Training techniques have developed as well and there is much more information available to the public. The internet didn’t even exist back then! Now you can look up on Youtube to find out how you to increase your vertical and basketball skills. You could argue that in this era, the game is a lot more polished. If you were to look at a basketball game from 20 years ago, you would realize three things:
1. The game seemed a lot slower.
2. There were a lot of white unathletic dudes playing.
3. They all wore short shorts.
Do these above points mean that Wilt Chamberlin wouldn’t dominate today’s NBA like he did when he played?
He would still be a great player, but perhaps maybe not put up the same dominant numbers.
With the NHL there are similar differences in the sport of hockey. There are more advanced training techniques and there is better technology. More importantly there have been rule changes. Two line passing, goalie equipment sizes and numerous of other key changes. This has once again made for a more polished game.
There is one category in particular that I look at when ranking all-time great players in their respective sport, and that is domination.
How much did that given player dominate their league in that certain point in history? This is why Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky will always go down as the best players in their respective sports. Based on the way the NHL and NBA function today, it would be nearly impossible to break the majority of Wayne Gretzky’s records. Michael Jordan’s records are equally impressive and hard to break.
Does this mean LeBron James will never be ranked as the greatest basketball player of all-time if he can’t catch Jordan’s six rings?
With that being said, Bill Russell won 11 rings with the Boston Celtics and isn’t even in the picture for being one of the top 5 NBA greats.
Why? He played in a time where the league only had eight teams. He was also a really poor shooter, 44 percent from the field for a center is atrocious.
You have to take everything into context.
The truth is, as an avid sports fan, you thrive on watching history being made in front of your eyes. You want to be able to tell your grandkids that you saw Lebron James win his first NBA championship. You want to remember seeing Tom Brady break the touchdown record in a season. This is the reason why so many of us even watch sports. Comparing present events to past events will always happen; it’s part of the essence of sports.