Metta World Peace Says Today’s NBA Is A ‘Baby’s Game’

Metta World Peace, no matter what name he’s gone by, has always been one of the toughest players in the NBA. He’s also been one of the most outspoken – sometimes to a fault. If there’s something on his mind, he’ll talk about it. If there’s something he doesn’t like, he’ll let everyone know. The most recent topic World Peace disproves of: the softness in today’s NBA. Here’s what he told Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

“I remember I came into the NBA in 1999, the game was a little bit more rough. The game now is more for kids. It’s not really a man’s game anymore,” World Peace said. “The parents are really protective of their children. They cry to their AAU coaches. They cry to the refs, ‘That’s a foul. That’s a foul.’

“Sometimes I wish those parents would just stay home, don’t come to the game, and now translated, these same AAU kids whose parents came to the game, ‘That’s a foul.’ These kids are in the NBA. So now we have a problem. You’ve got a bunch of babies professionally around the world.”

World Peace wasn’t quite done.

“It’s no longer a man’s game,” he said. “It’s a baby’s game. There’s softies everywhere. Everybody’s soft. Nobody’s hard no more. So, you just deal with it, you adjust and that’s it.”

This is hardly a new train of thought. Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and many other veterans have complained about how today’s players are too soft. World Peace might be the first current player to talk about it, but all he’s doing is joining the crop of crotchety men who want to beat their chest about how the game was “tougher” back in their day. It seems that these players are conflating “tough” with physical. Defensive rules back in the 90s – most notably, hand-checking – enabled defenses to be get more physical with offensive players. Contact was constant, with players bumped and pushed all over the court.

Once the rules changed, taking away the hand check and allowing zone defenses, that physicality declined. The game became one of finesse, speed and spacing; it was also more popular with audiences, as the new TV-rights deal shows. But to say that made the game and the players somehow soft, simply isn’t right. Mike Conley, one of the smallest guys on the court, played through a freaking broken face in last year’s playoffs. Just because players aren’t used to being bumped as much doesn’t mean they’re not as tough as their 90’s counterparts.

It’s also interesting that World Peace is talking with such an old-world way of thinking when it comes to toughness, because he’s one of the biggest advocates for mental health awareness in professional sports. Bloviating about babies, softness and whatever other bullsh*t, tough-guy insults he wants to throw out does a disservice to his advocacy, diminishing his own efforts.

(Los Angeles Times)