Adam Silver says the NBA was too physical in the 1990s

Commissioner of the NBA (National Basketball Association) Adam Silver speaks during a press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 18, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes that the league was too physical in the 1990s.

While speaking with Kevin Garnett on his show, KG Certified, Silver delineated how the NBA was once fraught with superfluous physicality. So much so that it belied the offensive talent players had to offer.

For example, he asserts that if players could just knock Stephen Curry to the ground without repercussions, it would be a worse brand of basketball.

“I’ll answer it coming from the fan in me, which is — and maybe data comes into play here because I can look into data and other measures of interest,” Silver said. “There was a point, I believe, probably in the late 90s when the game became too physical. Yeah, and I think for our fans. From the aesthetic enjoyment of the game, where it deemphasized the particular skill a player had and maybe weighted too heavily physicality. Where a big, strong player could come in and prevent an incredibly skilled player from doing those kinds of things.

I think of, not that he’s a small guy, but a smaller player like Steph Curry can do on the floor. His ability to shoot, his ability to move through the paint — that if guys could just bang him and knock him to the ground, as that was once the case in the league, I don’t think that would be a better brand of basketball.”

Silver believes physicality is still pertinent in the NBA

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 05: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (L) awards Joel Embiid (R) #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers with the 2022-23 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Trophy prior to game three of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Wells Fargo Center on May 05, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The commissioner also highlighted how defense will always be a priority. He understands that fans don’t want to see players score effortlessly. Furthermore, he addressed how the NBA has adapted to the way players manipulate the rules.

“I also think we have to find the right balance because I know when I sit in stands or talk to friends sometimes, they want to bring back, and we’ve tried to bring back, a little bit more of the physicality,” Silver added. “Like I think people like to see hard defense. I mean, it goes a little before to what you and I were talking about, like touch and feel. I don’t think people like the idea that guys can go through unscathed and you’re protecting your star players.

And in fact, we made some changes this season, where the unnatural basketball moves. Where those are being — players were gaming the system in a way. Brilliant players. Playing by the rules, had found ways to where those were becoming defensive fouls. So we reset this year, which is something you got to do in the offseason. You don’t want to change mid-course. But we made it clear to those players that that’s no longer going to be a foul. And of course, because they’re the greatest players, they adjust and find other ways to score.”

Categories NBA