It’s hard to make a definitive argument for any sport regarding who is the best when it comes to all-time greatness.
One thing that is clear is that professional sports today have a certain lack of toughness when comparing the greats of today with the legends of yesterday.
Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt in sports except when it’s the point of the competition (boxing or UFC), but some of the recent rules by some of the leagues have people questioning, “Where is the passion?”
The NFL recently has set rules in place to make it less likely that a receiver will get a head injury by handing out fines to any players who aim for or make contact with the ball handler’s helmet.
In the NBA, it is becoming harder and harder to not commit a foul on a player, because the rules say if another player grazes the player with the ball, it is a foul.
The new rules are for the safety of the players and are in place because of former players who still are affected by injuries years after they have said goodbye to the game.
With that being said, by making the games so safe, it takes away from the passion and glory that comes along with the risk those players take when entering the battleground.
Players such as Larry Bird (Celtics), Dr. J (76ers), Dick Butkus (Bears) and Chuck Cecil (Cardinals) were known for their awesome play and their vicious attitudes.
In the 1984 NBA finals, Kurt Rambis of the Lakers was running down a fast break when out of nowhere, Kevin McHale of the Celtics threw a WWF-like clothesline that knocked Rambis to the floor.
As Rambis was getting up, both team’s benches rushed to the court to get a piece of the rumble.
If this were to happen nowadays, anyone who left the sideline would be fined and McHale himself would be kicked out of the game and suspended the next few games, depending on how forceful the hit was.
The fact that the players of the sports world aren’t able to show their emotions and play the game with all the blood, sweat and tears they had in the past is taking away the passion and thirst that sports once had.
In 1991, when Michael Jordan won his first championship, he cradled the Larry O’Brien Trophy with such a grip. He not only had beaten the Lakers in five games, but it had taken him seven years of getting beaten up by the Pistons. He had been overshadowed by the Celtics and had to give it his all every game against talented players who also gave it their all every time they saw him on the court.
Teams that play for championships in today’s games don’t seem to have a sense of a journey like they used to.
The fact that rules keep players from playing with passion makes it more difficult for fans to relate. The reason the legends still are remembered is because we got to see the struggles, the highs and lows of what made them great at a time when the only rule for the game was to go out there and win.
Quintin Marquez can be contacted via email at