Count Charles Barkley among the retired stars who consider the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors at least in part a creation of modern NBA rules, which make it more difficult than in the past to play physical defense.
“The Warriors have a terrific team, but you have to admit they have benefitted from the looser defensive rules,” the Turner analyst said Tuesday at a breakfast in Manhattan to promote CBS/Turner’s coverage of the NCAA Tournament.
“That’s not a knock. That’s just a fact. I’ve got a bunch of NFL friends of mine and they’re like, ‘They might as well be playing touch football out there now.’ That’s not a knock on the NFL.
“Like right now, Steph Curry is great. But you have to admit he’s benefitted from the rules change. They always look at us old guys [comparing eras]. Hey, listen, I’m pretty sure if Tiny Archibald came out, Walt Frazier came out, Isiah [Thomas] came out, I’m pretty sure if they played by the rules today, as great as they were, they would have been even greater.
“I would love for a guy not to be able to [expletive] touch me. I got over 20,000 [career] points. If every time I move a guy touches me [under current rules] I would have shot 10 more free throws a game. Guys would [expletive] put their arm in our back and I couldn’t [expletive] move. That doesn’t mean I’m hating on the Warriors, but they have benefitted by the looser rules.”
Barkley said that when he first said publicly that Michael Jordan’s 1990s Bulls would have beaten the current Warriors, “People acted like I said there’s not a God. Think about this: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, three of the most athletic players in the history of basketball, you think they would be overwhelmed or intimidated by that little Warriors team? C’mon, man.
“If you want to be fair and not live in the moment, can you imagine Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, three of the most athletic guys to play in the NBA, running up and down the court against the Warriors? I would [expletive] love that . . . The notion that Michael, Scottie and Dennis couldn’t play uptempo with those guys is just silly.
“Michael Jordan with no hand checking? Are you [expletive] kidding me? The guy averaged over 30 points with hand checking and almost got beat to death by the Pistons.”