Draymond Green got into a verbal spat with Boston Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell after the Golden State Warriors won Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Green took a shot at Maxwell, who said that the Warriors forward would have been knocked out in the '80s and '90s for his antics.
The bruising former Defensive Player of the Year winner also labeled the physicality of the '80s and '90s as only limited to only a few players. He named enforcers Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, who did a lot of punishment as two of the few tough and physical players.
On his podcast, Dan Patrick explained that the physicality of the '80s and '90s wasn’t solely the niche of the enforcers:
“Yes, they hit you. The star players got hit. Just ask Jordan. The best player in the game got hit. That don’t happen now. You can’t do that to anybody now.
"Have Draymond go back and look at what the Pistons did to Jordan. The Jordan Rules! They wrote a damn book about it. If Mike played now? You wouldn’t touch Michael! They wouldn’t let you touch him, absolutely not.”
Jordan, the emerging face of the NBA at that time, was infamously targeted by the “Bad Boys” through relentless physicality. As it happened to Jordan, the rest of the league was certainly involved in more bruising encounters.
Patrick gave an example of how rough and tumble the NBA used to be:
“There were enforcers, but there were guys who were going to hit you. Kevin McHale was not an enforcer, ask Kurt Rambis. He (McHale) lassoed him, threw him to the ground. He didn’t get tossed!"
"Was it always knockdown, drag-out, physical guys getting thrown out of games? No, it wasn’t, but it was far more physical than what you have now. You protect the stars now. Back then? They didn’t.”
The NBA is protecting today’s superstars better than it did in the '80s and '90s
The NBA is unquestionably a star-driven league. Millions of fans, throughout an NBA season, troop into arenas to watch the best players take to the court. As a gigantic business venture, the league has implemented more rules to protect players.
As the rules have become stricter, the physicality has decreased. It’s for this reason that Dan Patrick found Draymond Green’s backlash of Cedric Maxwell as unbelievable. DP gave an example of how the league has gotten “soft” in treating superstars:
“Remember Steve Kerr? Steve Kerr went nuclear when Marcus Smart went after a loose ball and rolled up on Steph Curry’s ankle like, ‘That’s a dirty play!’ Come on, Steve, you know what a dirty play is. You know what a physical play is. … And that was because it was Steph Curry.
"If it’s Jordan Poole? Nobody’s going crazy over it. We protect our stars. You are protecting your investments, which I understand.”
Patrick said that the players today are more skilled and probably more talented. But the rules and the style of play in the '80s and '90s made the game punishing and physical.