The year is 2035 the NBA Finals have just ended with the Seattle Supersonics repeating as the NBA champions by beating the London Knights 4-2 in a series that many described as historical. The young NBA TV’s broadcaster is discussing NBA in 2035 with the retired NBA superstar and two-times NBA champion with the Washington Wizards, Kevin Durant.
Broadcaster: Is this truly a historical day for the NBA?
KD: That is definitely a historical day. We haven’t seen such a performance by a player for a very long time1.
Broadcaster: There are many that consider his play similar to yours. Would you agree with that?
KD: Well, I believe that every player has his own style and legacy and we should avoid comparisons of this kind. However, I can see a lot of similarities; his height, the way he runs the floor and of course his scoring ability. Of course, he is also compared with Larry (Bird)2 from the previous generations. But, as I said every player, especially at this level, has his own style and uniqueness.
Broadcaster: The last time that we had the pleasure to have you in our studios, you said that in today’s NBA you would be averaging 45ppg. Is this something that you still believe?
KD: Well, yes nothing really changed since our last meeting (laughs). So, yes I still believe that. I mean, think about it. I used to be a pretty good outside shooter and a dunker. So, I believe that even though the three-point line is now at 27ft. (8.25m.) I would be able to hit some three-pointers and with the new point-system that gives to dunking more than one point3, I am sure I would be able to score enough baskets. While, of course and most importantly the fouling rule that gives you points immediately would make my life much easier.
Broadcaster: Many of the old stars of the game see the new zoning of the court as unacceptable and as the main reason for the total elimination of post-play. What is your take on that?
KD: I agree. I mean having baskets that are scored close to the basket, in a 13ft. (4m.) distance from the hoop, counting for only one point is definitely a good reason for choosing to do not play close to the basket. Players like Shaq for example, who used to score mostly with dunks close to the basket, would have to score 30 baskets in today’s NBA to get to 30 points. So, yeah I feel that the new zoning4 is also promoting a different, more athletic style of play.
Broadcaster: Do you feel that this is a logical continuation? Do you feel that it was players like you or Giannis (Antetokounmpo) that actually made this change in the rules and the style of play, necessary?
KD: Yeah, I think it makes sense. I mean that with players being able to run the floor so fast and jump so high, it makes sense to adjust the rules. I mean, we all witnessed what SF5 is able to do, being 7ft. tall and able to run the floor like only point guards used to do in my era. Now the league is full with players of his size running like Russell, dunking like LeBron and shooting the three like Steph, to speak in terms of the 2010s.
Broadcaster: Do you feel, however, that the game is more spectacular now?
KD: Well, I think that everyone sees the era that he played as the best. However, I think that bringing the shot-clock down to 20secs, having every foul to count instantly as points and by allowing 2-3 steps before dribbling the ball6, the game has become a lot faster and closer to the game that is played in parks. If you are a fan of the park game then I am sure you are excited by what you see today on NBA courts by the best basketball players in the world.
Broadcaster: How do you feel that American-born players are now the minority in the league – players that have been born abroad or that are from a non-American descent are almost 53% of the league. Also, how do you feel that the arguably best player and MVP of the league is British and not American?
KD: It is a global game man. That is all. It is a global game. There are now three teams based outside the US7 and one of them have actually just lost in the Finals. I feel that this is what the league wanted, through the expansion outside the US and what is happening is good for the game. SF is great player and if you think about it, even though he was born in the UK he learned the game from Americans, as the league has created many basketball academies in the UK to make the game popular8. I think that it is now second only to soccer in the UK. However, I still think that we are the best team in the world, when it comes to national teams, but the competition is much higher than when I used to play. I still believe though that we are the favourites to win the gold in the upcoming World Cup in Greece9.
Broadcaster: One final question for you KD and then we are going back live to Seattle. How would you describe the season in general?
KD: I think it was an exciting season with a lot of young players showing potential and the best teams reaching the Finals. It seems to me that the new system that made possible for the teams with the best records to actually qualify to the play-offs10 works, as I feel the competition is higher now and regular season is more meaningful. I think Seattle deserved the title and I expect London to come back stronger next year.
* That was an imaginary dialogue inspired by what is currently happening in the NBA; such as this, this, this, and this. It was also based on the history of the game and its evolution through the ages. The London Knights logo is an actual logo that was used by London’s ice hockey team (London Knights) in 2001.
1 SF averaged almost a triple-double during the Finals – a performance that KD compares with that of LeBron in 2015; with the difference that SF won the title (sorry LeBron).
2 SF has a body that is similar to that of Giannis but he is white and a great three-point shooter and it is unavoidable, to compare him with Larry – it is one of the favourite discussions among NBA analysts in 2035 whether he or Dirk or Larry is better.
3 If a player jumps behind the 2-point line the dunk counts for 2-points, if the player is stepping on the line, it counts for 1-point. Nobody has dunked by jumping behind the 3-point line yet…
4 The new zoning that made game the much faster and eliminated post-players gives one point for every basket within 13ft, two points in the area between the 1-point line and the 3-point line (13ft-27ft) and three points behind the 3-point line.
5 SF are the initials of the league’s MVP and arguably best player.
6 Every contact is considered as a foul. Every foul means points – there are no free throws, which means the game doesn’t stop and teams cannot employ the hack-a-player tactic (it would be a heaven for Shaq and DeAndre). Also, players based on the new rules that provide a higher degree of freedom are allowed to take 2-3 steps before dribbling the ball in direction or way the want to. Travelling is called literally only in cases where a player runs with the ball as if he were playing rugby or American football.
7 London Knights, Mexico City Eagles, and Tokyo Samurais.
8 Basketball is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and this is also thanks to the work the NBA has done in promoting the game in the UK. It is however currently considered as less popular than football, cricket and rugby from team-sports.
9 Based on the new FIBA World Cup system that starts in 2019 there will be a World Cup in 2035. Greece will, hopefully, by then be free of debt and able to organize a World Cup…
10 When it comes to the play-offs it doesn’t matter in what division a team plays; the 16 out of the 36 teams, with the best records qualify to the play-offs. Divisions matter only for the all-star game, which is now a whole week and is instead of East against West, the 6 divisions playing against each other; all-star rosters for each division play against each other in a final-four type system with a final game. A system that made all-star break more competitive with more games, more all-stars, more days to celebrate the game and a final game to close the celebrations and have a division that wins the all-star – it was Northwest that won the all-star final in 2035.