Game On…with Rob Kriete! – JUNE 2

Bill Laimbeer, where are you? Well, I know you’re coaching the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA, but I mean, where is your style of basketball? While having a solid NBA career, mostly in Detroit with the Pistons, and being known as a physical player who could rebound, shoot, and even foul a player or two when necessary, your style of play is absent from the modern NBA game. And, it desperately needs it, especially in the playoffs.

Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament

While engaged in the NBA playoffs, I still marvel at the lack of defense represented in these games! I understand it is an offense-first league. Three-pointers are still worth more than two, and I get that teams want to exploit this. But how can the NBA have a record number of three-pointers in these games while field-goal percentages continue to climb?

The answer is a lack of defensive prowess. While watching the Knicks-Hawks series this week, I noticed that as soon as a shot is taken (and usually a lightly contested shot, at best), players are already headed to the other side of the basketball court. The expression “crashing the boards” must have retired with Bill Laimbeer as well.

When Trae Young can dribble into the key and loft a modified finger-roll into the hoop without even a hand near him is upsetting to this NBA fan. I promise that if Bill Laimbeer suited up as a Knick in this series today, Trae Young would be on his ass in the key and would have to earn those points at the free-throw line while probably wincing from the contact. Furthermore, Trae would be thinking twice about attacking the basket with Laimbeer in the paint while taking those free throws!

Now, I’m not suggesting aggressive, flagrant fouls. All I’m asking for is some physical defense. Uncontested shots are for the first quarter of a regular-season game, not anywhere in the playoffs. I know that players “flop” nowadays when there is even a remote tap by a defender. I say, give them something to flop about. Scoring is absolutely fun and what many fans love. But stopping a team from scoring is also exciting for NBA fans. The great Michael Jordan was, more times than not, the best offensive and defensive player on the court in every game he played.

Simon and Garfunkel once sang, “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?.” I ask, where have you gone Bill Laimbeer?

Be safe, everyone!