1991 was the first year that I got heavily into this thing called the NBA — a pursuit that was destined to change my life irrevocably. The excitement surrounding the league back then was phenomenal.
You had Michael Jordan at the helm, providing ridiculous highlights on an almost nightly basis. The baton had been passed to him by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, both of whom were on near to their last NBA-legs, for various reasons. Outside of these ridiculously famous superstars, the likes of Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins and Isiah Thomas were putting in super-human offensive performances on the wings, whilst Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Brad Daugherty and Rony Seikaly were legitimate big men in a mould we don’t see today.
Meanwhile, we had a 1991-92 rookie class that included future stars Larry Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo, Kenny Anderson, Steve Smith, Terrell Brandon, Dale Davis and Australia’s own Luc Longley. Hawks rookie Stacey Augmon, the Plastic Man, was setting highlight reels alight, alongside Nique in the ATL. And just around the corner, we had the imminent arrival of Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Christian Laettner in what was to be a star-studded 1992 NBA Draft.
Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Chris Mullin, Shawn Kemp, Kevin Johnson, Mark Price, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Tim Hardaway, Dennis Rodman. And I’m only just getting started. The league was ridiculously talented and full of the type of players that you’d pay to go and see play — and entertain.
The league of today, by contrast, seems to have a minimal amount of legitimate stars. The ones that do exist are often petulant or overly self-focussed. They show little real personality, as they are too busy manicuring their public image and “personal branding”. You know who I’m talking about.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you disagree, but I can’t see how the NBA of the current era even remotely compares to what we witnessed in the early 1990s. Watch this video of the top 10 dunks of 1991-92 and tell me otherwise…