Former New York Knicks forward Charles Oakley was known for being one of the toughest and most ruthless competitors in his day.
Oakley was one of the foremost faces of a Knicks team that played imposing and physical defense throughout the 1990s.
Naturally, he has some reservations about the modern era: from the style of play to the motivations of players around the league.
Oakley suggested Jeff Van Gundy would not succeed as a head coach in today’s game. Largely because the mindset of the players has changed from a fundamental perspective. He said players prioritize money and clout over building chemistry and doing all the little things necessary to win an NBA title:
Via Marc Berman of The New York Post.
“Basketball has changed. You’re not getting the 1990s back,” Oakley said. “The game has a totally different atmosphere. You got to build a team with leadership and players willing to sacrifice. These kids don’t care about basketball. All they care about is getting the check, playing video games and the social media.”
It should come as no surprise Oakley is outspoken on this matter. After all, he is outspoken even in a a general sense.
Oakley has criticized Knicks management on a number of occasions. And he was involved in an infamous incident in 2017 where he was kicked out of Madison Square Garden. Still, Oakley refused to change his tune.
In the context of this season, however, Oakley makes some interesting points. There are conflicting details about what led to the Brooklyn Nets and former head coach Kenny Atkinson parting ways as well as former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein resigning from his post. But in both situations, players were reportedly unhappy.
The players seem to have more sway in front office decisions than ever before and more power in controlling their destinies. But Oakley believes those factors obfuscate the ultimate team goal of winning a championship.
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