I totally agree, but let's extend it college basketball as well. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, I was a big fan of ACC action -- Terry Holland at UVa, Dean Smith at UNC and the rest of the gang. Those coaches could recruit smart, average kids who could play, teach them the fundamentals and turn them into an intelligent, strategizing team that was fun to watch. Now look at the state of college ball -- it's just like the NBA: run down the court, dunk, run back up the court, dunk, run down the court ... you get the picture. That type of streetball is just plain boring. And the kids play that way because that's all they know. The only coach out there coaching REAL basketball is Duke's Coach K -- and Duke's the only team that's really interesting to watch these days. It's sad ... truly sad.
The ESPN highlights, the NBA paying so much attention to the dunk contest, all contribute.
In college - it has become tough to teach fundamentals to NBA caliber players because by the time they're a sophamore or junior - they declare for the NBA draft. That's part of the reason why the only players that seem to have a grasp of fundamentals are the Europeans.
BTW - you could even extend this to high school where the best players just dunk over the opposition. They don't bother learning fundamentals in high school either.
Not like hockey, which is exactly the same game it was 30 years ago.
Cobb - for 15 seasons from 1954 to 1972 every team in the NBA averaged over 100 points per game. Now the team who averages 100 per game is really the exception not the rule and that 15 season stretch was before the 3 point rule.
Hockey was better in the 70's too if you ask me. The trap and all the clutching and grabbing was destroying fan interest even before the lockout.
I think that much of the problems with the NBA can be traced back to when the 3 point shot was added to college basketball.
Prior to the 3 point shot, teams worked on post play to get the ball in low to get higher percentage shots. This helped develop good post play and good guard play. With the 3 point shot in effect, teams look more for shooters and guard play. For a lot of teams at the college level, they seem to expect defense and rebounding from their big guys, but not offense. You see very few great forwards or centers in the college ranks these days, hence the dearth of solid forward and center play in the NBA.
Couple that with the highlight mentality of the players and their publicists, the all sports networks, you end up getting a lot of individual play for the camera, but not a lot of great team play.