Has anyone else noticed how the National Basketball Association and the players that join the league have made big changes to how the game of basketball is being played? Well I have, and I think it is being played at a much faster level than ever before because of players like Stephen Curry and Lebron James. Times have definitely changed since players like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. With the younger generation coming up they are now looking at these players as their version of Micheal Jordan, which is something that I struggle to believe because I think that he is one of the best players to ever play on a NBA court.
I am going to talk about three players that I believe have changed the whole game of basketball for each generation that has watched or is still watching them, and the three players are going to be Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Stephen Curry.
Let's start with Michael Jordan. He is a player who is always in the conversation when it comes to the greatest of all time or G.O.A.T. talk. Jordan was drafted in 1984 to the Chicago Bulls with the third overall pick out of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jordan brought a presence to the basketball court that most people couldn’t describe, but when players would talk about playing against him, it was that he gave the game everything he had every night that he played. He had the ability to change the pace of each game to how he wanted it to. That is what he did if he wanted to score on someone, rarely would any other player get in the way of him making it to the basket.
When Jordan was playing it was the most physical, meaning fouls weren’t called for players flopping; they were called when there was actually contact made. Therefore I want to classify the time Michael Jordan spent in the league as the Physical Era.
Now let's look at the next great player that changing the NBA, Lebron James. Lebron James was drafted in 2003 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lebron was a huge name right away because he is one of just a few players that would be drafted right out of high school. With him entering the league at this age it gave people a new G.O.A.T to watch.
Lebron James became our own version of Michael Jordan and we still get to watch him today. Kids used to say “ I wanna be like Mike,” but during the time of Lebron James dominating the league. The phrase “Lebron” was said when they would shoot a basketball because they wanted to be like him. Lebron created an era where people realized they could make “Super Teams.” A super team is when a team has at least three all-stars on the team at once. In the case of Lebron it was when he joined the Miami Heat and joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Lebron would go on to win two championships with the Miami Heat, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and a recent title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.
The most talked about player in the last five years has to be Stephen Curry. Curry was drafted in 2009 to the Golden State Warriors. Curry was not expected to be a threat in the NBA because he was undersized and was injury-prone due to past ankle injuries. But people quickly started to look at him closer because of his ability to shoot a basketball from distances as far as the logo on an NBA court.
Curry changed the way that people scored and made other players in the league start to want to shoot more three-point shots. Players realized that Curry was easily one of the best players to ever utilize the three-point shot. When kids play the game of basketball now, they all want to be able to shoot like Curry, and that is also seen in the NBA too because teams are now focusing more on acquiring players that can shoot from all over the court, not just close or mid-range shots. Curry introduced the era of the overuse of the three-point shot in the NBA.
Jordan, James, and Curry are all important to the history of the NBA and the culture of basketball itself. They have all affected generations of kids watching and playing the game, with the newer game focusing on shooting rather than fundamental basketball skills like rebounding, passing, and ball handling. But I don’t believe that the league is going downhill because of this it is actually making watching games more exciting because with how good players can now shoot the ball a game could be decided with just one shot. Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Stephen Curry are players that will be remembered for how they influenced the game, and they are all always going to be in the conversation of which one is the G.O.A.T.