As time passes, the faces change, but the game stays the same. As a result, it’s easy to notice similarities between NBA players from different eras.
The Golden Age for me as a basketball fan was the early-1990s. Those days were filled with a lot of up-and-comers with plenty of style like Shaq, Penny and Kenny Anderson. Add to that the stars from the ’80s like Isiah, Michael and Hakeem who were able solidify their careers and win the ultimate prize within that period, and a host of other memorable characters.
Looking back at the good old days (at least for me), let’s compare some players from that era to the players of today:
KEVIN JOHNSON = CHRIS PAUL
Kevin Johnson was one of the most underrated point guards of all-time. At just 6-foot-1 he was a regular 20-ppg scorer (five times in his career) who also handed out 9.1 assists per night. Putting up those kind of numbers is a huge feat that only elite PG’s are able to accomplish. KJ was ruthless attacking the basket, creating famous highlights like his dunks on Olajuwon and Hot Rod Williams.
The closest to filling KJ’s shoes in today’s game is Chris Paul. Similar in size, CP3 puts up similar number to Johnson with ease, averaging 19.3 points and 10.0 assists for his career so far. Although Paul doesn’t have as many memorable facials as Johnson, his dunk on Dwight Howard definitely puts him in the discussion of a Kevin Johnson-type of player.
CLYDE DREXLER = ANDRE IGUODALA
Clyde “The Glide” was a player whose overall skills were overshadowed by his ability to fly. The same could be said about Iguodala. While the Sixers’ star has improved his ball-handling and shooting and is showing his complete game with Team USA this summer, he’s mostly known for getting out on the break and throwing it down. Also, just like Clyde — who won his NBA championship playing with Hakeem — Iguodala may be better suited being the No. 2 option on a championship team than trying to be a franchise player.
LARRY JOHNSON = GERALD WALLACE
The first All-Star of the old franchise in Charlotte was Larry Johnson. Gerald Wallace is the first All-Star for the new franchise in Charlotte. Both players have proven themselves as big-time rebounders despite being undersized for the power forward spot. (Wallace switches between the three and the four.) Johnson, a 6-6, has a couple of double-double seasons under his belt, while Wallace, 6-7, averaged 18.2 points and 10.0 boards this year.
SHAWN KEMP = AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE
Even during a time when his competition included Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, Kemp, a.k.a. “The Reign Man,” was arguably the marquee power forward of the early ’90s. Running with an All-NBA point guard in Gary Payton, Kemp was in the highlights on the regular for finishing Payton’s dimes with monster dunks. Amar’e Stoudemire is the Shawn Kemp of this era. Being on the receiving end of some great assist from two-time MVP Steve Nash, Stoudemire’s game is a splitting image of Kemp’s game: powerful finishes at the rim complemented by an underrated offensive repertoire.
ALONZO MOURNING = DWIGHT HOWARD
Dwight Howard is an intimidating defensive force who — despite his oft-criticized offensive game — can still drop 20 points on you at the other end. His strong build and skills as a rebounder and shot-blocker draws a clear comparison to Alonzo Mourning. ‘Zo won two NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Howard has matched that total already, and it’s safe to say a few more are on the way before his career is over.