Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

NBA Hall of Famer and current Los Angeles Lakers analyst James Worthy became the latest former player to rip on the current generation of ballers because things aren’t exactly the same now as they were back in the day. 

Worthy argued on the Stoney & Jansen Show that players spending less time in college in the one-and-done era has made the game “less fundamentally sound,” among other complaints (h/t Yahoo’s Noah A. McGee):

“I mean, Kareem had four years with John Wooden, Michael Jordan and I had three years with Dean Smith, Isiah (Thomas) had some years with Bobby Knight. So you learned the fundamentals. Not only that, you learned how to live. You learned how to balance your freaking checkbook in college, there’s a lot of things. When you don’t get that, guys are coming to the NBA who are not fundamentally sound. All they do is practice threes, lift weights, get tattoos, tweet and go on social media. That’s it.”

Worthy, 61, played for the Los Angeles Lakers for his entire 12-year career (1982-1994), averaging 17.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while winning three titles as the sidekick to Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

He’s an NBA legend, though players from previous generations probably thought that all his Showtime Lakers did was drugs, sleep around with women and relentlessly push the pace in transition. 

The game changes. The culture around the game changes. Inevitably, that seems to ruffle the feathers of former players. 

Kevin Durant had his own response to Worthy’s remarks:

Kevin Durant @KDTrey5

My middy is sharp, but james is right, this ain’t the old days lol https://t.co/MbHHTPSsQn

The modern NBA has players who have dedicated their entire lives to the game, given the AAU world that has emerged, and has better athletes with more resources for having proper nutrition and physical maintenance. 

The game has also grown around the world, with many of the league’s best players—Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, to name a few—coming from overseas. That has led to a huge influx of talent in the league. 

And the growing trend to spacing the floor has not only meant more skilled players proliferate the NBA, it’s also meant that super athletic, versatile and switchable players are needed to play defense at a high level. 

Is the NBA really less fundamental, or have the fundamentals broadened? It’s hard to imagine the players who are so incredible at their craft only spend their time on social media and at tattoo parlors. 

There are plenty of critiques to aim at the NBA. The season feels too long, for one, leading to injured superstars in the postseason who can’t play or aren’t 100 percent. In the process, the postseason product suffers. Just look at the spate of blowouts in this year’s playoffs.

But like many former NBA players before him annoyed at the modern game, Worthy’s critiques feel more like angst about the inevitability of change than constructive criticism about the actual state of the game.

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