The Sports Kid Column: Millennials Are Ruining the NBA


Bobby Wagner, Managing Editor

Yesterday, after a total fallout with the Phoenix Suns’ organization that lasted months, Markieff Morris finally got what he wanted in the form of a one-way plane ticket to Washington. Morris has, over the last few months, become the microcosm of a growing problem in sports — the childishness of millennials. The way this man — nay, this boy — was swaddled in his ego as he stormed out of the door of the franchise that drafted him was embarrassing. I was literally sick to my stomach when I saw it.

In 2009, 13-year-old me was proud to be a millennial. We were revolutionizing the way people were looking at the game with statistics, analytics and smarter scouting. Now look at us. Sam Binkie has tortured one of the most dedicated basketball fan bases that basketball has to offer. He just doesn’t understand the value of winners or, more importantly, winning. Score more points, Sam — more points than the other team. People have been doing it for years, it’s not hard. Philadelphia fans are now going through a slow death grind ambiguously called “The Process” after enjoying the upstanding class of Allen Iverson for years.

There was a time, not so long ago, when players cared about winning. Now all they care about is the pizza party they’re going to throw with their former AAU teammates after the game and the reckless thoughts they’re going to put on the Tweeter. It’s all buddy-buddy, and quite frankly, it makes it hard to even remember how serious sports are. NBA players won’t even agree not to roller blade at their birthday parties to ensure that they don’t get injured. It’s child’s play.

The pivotal moment, the one that solidified the NBA’s downfall, was The Decision, in 2010. This is where things really went downhill. LeBron James — or should I say LeBron Benedict James Arnold — literally stabbed every Cleveland basketball fan in the back, personally. He sold Northeast Ohio out so that he could go play with his friend Dwyane Wade in Miami, and when he did, things were never the same. I heard that the stress he deservedly felt after he came back to Cleveland even made him go bald. Serves you right for doing the older generation wrong, LeBenedict.

And Steph Curry, with all these pantomime dribble moves and flamboyant celebrations after jump shots. What’s that all about? Am I right? What would it take for me to have Kobe Bryant spitting everywhere as a celebration again? It used to be all business. I get that it’s a game, but is it really supposed to be fun? Fans and television executives can only take so much more of this lollygagging, me-first showmanship that is leading to fist fights on the court and soul-searching off it. Before millennials cracked The Association, there were never any fights. Now, it’s all just bickering about who’s going to make the most money. Worry about where you’re getting your next beer, NBA players, not your next buck. That’s what Larry Legend would have wanted.

Make the NBA great again, millennials. We’re begging you.

A Millennial Rating of the 1988 Dunk Contest Final

First Dunk (36:12): Dominique throws himself an alley-oop off the glass and slams it in hard from decently far away. In the 2016 dunk contest, I would have given this a 32/50. It actually got a 50/50.

Second Dunk (37:10): Jordan does his patent reverse, kick his legs out dunk while looking graceful as hell. Still, in 2016’s contest, this is a meager 31/50. Judges gave it a 50/50.

Third Dunk (38:10): ‘Nique does a windmill down the baseline coming from the left corner. He brings the ball down incredibly low and dunks it incredibly hard. This is actually up to the standards of today’s contest. 45/50. Another 50/50 by the ‘88 judges.

Fourth Dunk (39:20): MJ windmills and throws it down with two hands, kicks his legs out again. He really loved doing that, as you can tell from the logo for his world-dominating shoe brand. This dunk was nice. I’d give it a 42/50 in 2016. It got a 47/50 in ‘88.

Fifth Dunk (40:34): Wilkins does the exact same dunk as he did for his second dunk, but he does it from the opposite side, so that he’s throwing it down with his right hand down the center of the hoop, instead of the side of the hoop. Kind of whack. 36/50. It got a 45/50 in real life.

Sixth Dunk (42:12): The classic. The revolutionary. The historical. The Jordan free throw line dunk. Seeing as Zach Lavine did this with a windmill, an alley-oop and through the legs this year, I can’t give it a 50. But, it was still sick. 46/50 from me. Of course, in ‘88, it got a 50/50.

The ideas expressed on this page are the opinions of the author and are not meant to be taken as an endorsement from WSN.

Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]