Over the years, the NBA as a whole has evolved. The league is different and players and attitudes are no longer the same from even 10 years ago, let alone the 1970s and 80s.
During those days, the game was a lot more physical and there seemed to be genuine hatred between certain players and teams. The biggest rivalries were always a threat to turn physical, but these days everyone seems much more friendly.
To Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, that’s just the lay of the land now. Making an appearance on Kevin Garnett’s Area 21, Kuzma noted that everyone is close now and that’s just the new culture:
“It’s a different league. Back then, it was like, ‘I’m walking past you. I don’t even know you’re here.’ But now, everybody is close. Everybody is friends. That’s just the new wave, I guess.”
Much of the reason a lot of players are closer these days is because they know each other from early ages.
The rise of AAU and travel-ball circuit has led to the best players in each area of the country playing together and traveling long distances to play against each other. Not to mention, the top high school camps also bring these top players together.
Well before they graduate high school the majority of top prospects have met, played, and gotten to know each other for years so there is a relationship already built in. As such, it can become a little more difficult to really build that hatred on the court.
The key for players is to not let their relationship with opponents hinder their performance on the court. That is something that Kuzma has been great at because he has shown that he will play his hardest regardless of the opposition.
Players of Kuzma’s ilk would fit in regardless of the era he came into. Of course, if the Lakers have it their way, they too will boast a roster led by multiple All-Stars.
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