The NBA is one of the nation's most popular sports and has a loyal following. But undoubtedly, the golden era of the sport - the 1990s - has come and gone. The NBA was, at least arguably, the sport of the 90s. The same cannot be said about the current version of the league.
Here are 25 reasons why the NBA was so much better back then.
25. The Dream Team. In 1992, 11 future Hall of Fame players (plus Christian Laettner) joined forces for six consecutive Olympic victories, where the lowest margin of victory was 38 points. The greatest collection of basketball players ever assembled dominated the world; such carnage can and never will be seen again.
24. The Nicknames. "The Mailman" Karl Malone, "The Answer" Allen Iverson, "The Round Mound of Rebond" Charles Barkley, "The Glove" Gary Payton, "Reignman" Shawn Kemp, "Diesel" Shaq, "The Worm" Dennis Rodman, "Clyde the Glide" Drexler, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and "Croation Sensation" Toni Kukoc. I could go on forever. What's around in today's NBA? "Melo" for Carmelo Anthony? "King James," for LeBron? "D-Wade" for Dwyane Wade? I mean "Durantula" for Kevin Durant? Ok, that one's pretty cool I guess.
23. The NBA on NBC Song. Seriously, does this song not bring you back to the days when you loved the NBA? Such excitement in every game. Are there any iconic songs or sounds attached to the NBA today? Admit it, this song has your blood pumping.
22. Dikembe Mutombo's Finger Wag. You didn't want to be on the receiving end of the greatest post-play celebration in the history of basketball. The 7-foot-2 Mutombo would block your shot and then taunt you without saying a word. It wouldn't be called a technical foul either. Ah, the freakin' good old days before everyone was so sensitive.
21. John Stockton's Shorts. Seriously, in the golden era of the NBA (the 90s) there were still players out on the court wearing the classic basketball shorts; especially in the first half of the decade. Most notably worn by Stockton. The shorts were...well, short and utilitarian. Not long, not for fashion. The same cannot be said for the game today. I mean, many players in the NBA today actually wear pads on their legs under their shorts. Somewhere, Jerry West is shaking his head.
20. Those "I Love This Game" Commercials. You remember them, you think you don't but you really do. Watch this video and be transported back to the 90s. You're oh so welcome.
19. Reggie Miller and The Pacers Versus Spike Lee and the New York Knicks. One of the greatest rivalries of all-time. There are no instances of such drama, passion and hatred in the NBA today. Today's "rivalries" are merely toned-down, politically correct disagreements in comparison.
18. Kazaam. The movie which featured Shaq as a genie. Yep, that's right. The NBA of today couldn't come close to matching the hilariousness that is this film. The depth of characters in the NBA of the 90s was far superior to that of today's game. Who could play this role from the NBA right now? That's what I thought.
17. Stockton and Malone. This was as iconic of a symbiotic relationship as the NBA has ever seen; the pick and roll ran to perfection. Stockton and Malone were the good guys who never won it all for the entirety of the 90s. They made Salt Lake City relevant in conversations for an entire decade. The isolation-offense of today's NBA has no room for a combination of pure basketball theory and execution such as this.
16. There Were No Pelicans. I mean, I don't want to be rude, but it's just hard to find a reason to care about this team. In the 90s there were no New Orleans Pelicans. Watch as Mike Greenberg sums up my unexplainable (but shared) frustration quite well. I mean come on...Pelicans
15. The Bad Boys. Sure, their empire was winding down as the 90s began, but they are still an integral part of the culture of the NBA in the decade. The Pistons were a team to be reckoned with and has the coolest name of a "dynasty" ever. Didn't Bill Laimbeer come out with a video game that combined basketball with fighting? He sure did, and it was called "Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball." Was it horrible? That's beside the point. This generation of NBA viewers wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much as we did.
14. The Characters of 90s NBA. The characters in today's NBA, if you can even call them that, cannot compare to the greats of the 90s. I'm not sure if they're less interesting or if we just care less. Think back to the ridiculous antics of Dennis Rodman, the memorable quotes from Charles Barkley and Shaq, the Bad Boys as a whole, the cockiness of Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan sticking his tongue out while dunking...come on. Can't be beat.
13. Muggsy Bogues. In the 90s we got to watch the shortest player to ever play in the NBA, at 5-foot-3. Not only did he play but he excelled; averaging 7.6 assists-per-game in his career. His highlights are so much fun to watch. Seriously, watch them, you'll smile the whole time or you get your money back.
12. The Goggles. In the 90s goggles were a regular part of the game. So goofy, yet so fashionable. You just don't see that hilarious headgear out on the court today. It's quite a shame. They were funny, we laughed at them, but we all secretly wanted a pair.
11. Space Jam. The crown jewel of animated movies for 90s kids who loved Michael Jordan...which was pretty much all 90s kids. If you count Jordan and the tune squad's championship victory over the Monstars at the end of the film, he actually has seven rings.
10. Players Stayed In College. Most players stayed in college for 3-4 years and were ready for the NBA in their rookie seasons. It was rare when a player came in as a teen. In today's game, guys constantly come out of school too early and it has diluted the quality of the game. It's just not as competitive anymore.
9. The Jerseys. The jerseys were classics. Uniforms now seem bland in comparison. Maybe my bias, based on my nostalgic attachment to them, makes them seem better. Nah, they totally were better.
8. Fights Between Hall of Fame Players. In today's NBA, sure there are occasional skirmishes, but has anyone seen LeBron mix it up with Derek Rose or Kevin Durant? Like for real? Maybe the refs just don't let them go at it like they used to. Either way, in the 90s, future Hall Of Fame players mixed it up quite regularly. Who doesn't love a good passion-filled fight?
7. No Mark Cuban. Thankfully, there wasn't an obnoxious team owner like Cuban in the 1990s. He became an owner - and a national personality - literally four days after the 90s ended. I'm just saying...the 90s were in some ways too perfect of a time for Cuban's antics. The fight in this video was staged, but that doesn't make him any less annoying does it?
6. 90s Hip-Hop And The NBA. Maybe the only thing better than the NBA in the 90s was the music in the 90s. Hip-hop and rap infiltrated their way into the NBA culture of the decade. It was a great time in American culture.
5. Centers Were Relevant. In the 1990s, one of the most important positions on the court was Center. You had David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaq, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning among others. Who is the best Center in the NBA today? Roy Hibbert? Dwight Howard? Sure, there is Tim Duncan, but he's an almost extinct, dying breed of a bygone era.
4. The Seattle Supersonics Were Still Around. One of the best franchises in all of the NBA is now gone. No one will forget their classic jerseys - especially those who live in Seattle and vehemently watch the Oklahoma City Thunder play. Kevin Durant should be on the verge of bringing a title back to Seattle.
Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton anchored the 90s Supersonics squad. I've never even been to Seattle and I loved watching them.
3. The Old Logos/Apparel. The Charlotte Hornets logo is the first one to come to mind. It never gets old, it's classically-goofy and quintessential 90s NBA. You remember those times, the Starter Jackets era. You had to have one and chances are good that it was some bright color with a now-defunct NBA logo on it. If you saved your old NBA apparel, you can make some big bucks off it now. But you'll be cooler if you just decide to dust them off and wear 'em.
2. The Individual Rivalries. Michael Jordan versus Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan versus Reggie Miller (Fun-fact: Both scored 25 points in their final head-to-head matchup), David Robinson versus Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing versus Hakeem Olajuwon, Dennis Rodman versus Karl Malone and Charles Barkley versus Kevin McHale to name a few.
What individual rivalries of the current NBA get your blood pumping? LeBron versus Carmelo? Kobe versus LeBron? Smeh... I'll pass.
1. Michael Jordan. Could there be any other person, moment, team or heck, anything else at number one? He was the greatest player we've ever seen. He was the 1990s, not just in the NBA, but in culture, advertisements, life. In today's NBA, he is just a terrible GM. He changed the way people looked at sports and turned an entire nation of kids into (temporary) Bulls fans.
There is no player so captivating or jaw-dropping, game in and game out, in today's NBA and there never will be again. Sorry LeBron, Michael didn't have to leave his Midwestern city to win not one, not two...but six championship rings. All hail the real "King". See what I did there?