Former Basketball great Charles Oakley has admitted that the modern game has changed and he’s not sure how he’d fit in as a player with the way it’s played now.
The 57-year-old had a great career for the likes of the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks, but he admits he doesn’t see as much physicality or aggression in the game now, saying he feels it’s become more “sexy” and focused on style than it used to be.
“I don’t see that in basketball no more,” Oakley said in a recent interview with Betway Insider. “I watch it, but I don’t see that rough and tough, the game has changed.
“It’s more of a sexy game now, more of a global league and I think that the rules take a lot of toughness out of the game.
“You’ve still gotta be tough to play anyway because it’s 82 games, a lot of physicality, traveling and preparation. But as far as all-out rough and tough, I don’t see no player like that.
“My thing is, when I played, I think I could fit in any system and I could play with any player. So my job would be the same: defense, rebound, protect the basketball. Once you build a house, and then two days later, you might want to build another house because you don’t like it. You can’t, you just got to deal with the one you built, put the furniture in and keep living.
“It’s just a different game. I think I’d get more rebounds now, because the field goal percentage is a lot lower. So I’d probably average at least 15 and 15 in this era.”
He added: “My name gets mentioned a lot in a lot of conversations, about toughness, this and that. They always say a team needs a guy like Oak, a team needs this, a team needs a leader. So they throw my name around a lot, they keep me in the mix.
“Sometimes if you played 18 to 20 years ago, they don’t talk about you unless you’ve got championship rings, but they do talk about me a lot. So maybe I need to go. I don’t know. They keep bringing my name up so that’s a good thing. They always say I’m a bad guy, but they always bring my name up in a good way. So I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing.”
Oakley may well have his reservations about the way Basketball has changed, but he feels younger fans today will still appreciate the golden era of the 80s and 90s, particularly following the intrigue around Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance documentary.
“People always respected the ‘80s and ‘90s. That’s the hottest era ever,” he said. “Those two decades were fire in music, sports, entertainment. There wasn’t social media, people were just having a good time, enjoying life. But since the last 20 years, it’s been wide open. A lot of stuff’s come out of the closet. Ain’t no more doors on the closet, the closet is just wide open.”