Envision the NBA greats from the past and near-past, those who made us basketball fans. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bob Cousy, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, John Havlicek, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Stockton, Bill Walton, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West.
See them in action? Leading a fast break, making a crucial block or a steal, scoring a huge basket, making a fabulous pass, rebounding their misses, playing chest-to-chest defense, doing whatever it takes to make their teams winners, champions.
How many of these historic masterpieces in your cherished throw-back action memories include the vision of a 3-point shot, any NBA great choosing as his first option to throw up a 3-point bomb? I’ll guess none, as in zero.
But like most added artificial wrinkles and novelties in sports and Kardashian chronicles, the 3-point shot has far surpassed its intent. It’s now the Frankenstein monster, turned on its creators and feeders to destroy them.
By the time this NBA season ends, the average number of 3s taken per game will be close to 80, nearly half the field goal attempts per game. Twenty years ago ,the average total taken per game was 13.7; in the 1990s, about five per game were standard.
“Everyone has fallen in love with the 3-ball,” Frazier lamented three seasons ago on an MSG Network Knicks game. Only now it’s worse.
Last week, Warriors at Mavericks, the teams combined to take 93 3-pointers. Advertised as a professional basketball game, it took all the planning and strategic genius of feeding a pen of hens. It wasn’t a game, it was real-life satire, a goof, with many more to come.
Thursday, the Rockets lost to the Heat in a game starring 92 3-pointers — including 50 of 83 field goal attempts by Houston.
Locally, 7-foot Knicks center Mitchell Robinson openly complained that he wasn’t being allowed the opportunity to take 3-point shots. He leads the team with 3.5 offensive rebounds per game, but wants to show off his stuff far from the basket.
he Knicks had already wasted a first-round draft pick on 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis, who considered himself a shooting guard with a killer 3. Last season, with the Mavericks, in 57 games, he attempted 403 3s, and, at 7-3, averaged a paltry 1.8 offensive rebounds, roughly as he did with the Knicks.
The Knicks had a very eager, willing and effective offensive and defensive rebounder in Enes Kanter, who revealed that then new and now former Knicks coach David Fizdale wanted him to abandon what he did best on offense to take more 3-point shots.
Again, this is not — nothing even close — to what the NBA intended. In my estimation, it’s killing the game, making it predictably redundant, unimaginative and starved for the kind of play and players that made the NBA great — back when all field goals were worth 2 points, back when there was a good reason to use one’s signature sneakers to run a fast break.
Phil Mushnick, New York Post