Isiah and DW were widely criticized for putting a Pacers team together that was an athletic team where players were capable of playing several positions. Many Pacers fans argued that it was the wrong approach, that players need to only play one position to only fit into a certain role.
Maybe DW was ahead of his time, maybe he tried to build the perfect team for todays NBA.
Offense not a thing of the past
Still plenty of defense, but NBA's adjustments have given league life
By DAVID MOORE / The Dallas Morning News
My timing can be a bit off at times.
A glance at my stock portfolio would confirm that.
So why choose today, less than 48 hours removed from an NBA Finals game in which neither team cracked 100 points, to talk about how the league is undergoing an offensive renaissance?
Because watching that 90-80 Mavericks victory was a reminder that we are seeing fewer and fewer of these games in the playoffs.
Scoring averages and shooting percentages are up across the board. Teams are averaging 10.2 points more in these playoffs than they did only two years ago.
Miami didn't show it Thursday, but the Heat averaged 97.5 points and shot 48.9 percent from the field to work its way through the more methodical Eastern Conference.
"Our coaches are like chameleons," said Stu Jackson, the NBA's senior vice president of basketball operations. "They will adapt to whatever rules we have.
"But we've gotten positive feedback in terms of the direction of the game and the way it's being played. I think the game's in a good place right now."
It's in a lot better place than it was a few years ago.
The pedestrian, often numbing pace of the game was a major concern five years ago when commissioner David Stern began to have discussions with Jackson on the subject. With input from Phoenix chairman Jerry Colangelo and others, the league put together a committee to explore solutions.
"My major concern had to do with the sort of roughness of the game, but more than that, my abiding sense that isolation seemed designed to hide the talents of a good percentage of our players," Stern said Friday at his annual Finals news conference. "We had to try to do something that was better than that.
"You put one guy in the corner and four guys in the parking lot and that was our NBA basketball."
The problem wasn't defense. No one wanted to legislate against solid defensive principles. But Stern and others expressed dissatisfaction with how the rules on the books were warped, how a perception developed that the game would become whatever the coaches wanted.
The committee cleaned up the rules to give players more freedom on the perimeter and to open up the lane. This put a premium on speed and gave the stars more space to be stars.
"Scoring was not our original intent," Jackson said. "It was to help the aesthetics of the game, to get a more free-flowing game and to eliminate one-on-one and two-on-two basketball.
"Also back then, the art of fast-break basketball had started to disappear. That was really our focus. The byproduct of the rules changes, luckily, was that scoring actually increased."
Miami coach Pat Riley said what you have now are rules "that allow you to attack, attack, attack with perimeter guys."
Former NBA player and coach Billy Cunningham called Stern earlier this week to tell him he thoroughly enjoyed watching the playoffs and thought that for the first time, coaches were putting their five best players on the court regardless of position.
Small ball is the popular phrase. But what the game is about today is versatility. It's about having a player who can excel at more than one position and opening up the floor by creating mismatches.
It's what the Mavericks do. Coach Avery Johnson loves the team's perimeter quickness and length and talks about the Jason Terry-Devin Harris backcourt in terms of being cornerbacks on defense and wide receivers on offense.
"I think you need that in basketball right now," Johnson said. "You need guys that can cover around the perimeter. You need guys that have legs and stay pretty fresh throughout the game.
"That was critical with the way we constructed this team."
And that's why I'm thinking you won't see another 90-80 affair Sunday night.
ON THE RISE
Postseason scoring averages and shooting percentages over the last three years.
Season Avg. Pct.
2004 88.0 .421
2005 97.1 .448
2006 98.2 .460