Stephen A. Smith
Photo: Getty/Jesse D. Garrabrant

‘The Last Dance’, a Chicago Bulls dynasty documentary, sparked comparisons between the 90’s and today’s NBA. Not only in terms of playing style but also in terms of players’ mentality. Sports analyst Stephen A. Smith was blunt when speaking on this topic and called today’s players ‘very very soft mentally’ because of how they react to criticism.

“I’m gonna say what Jalen Rose didn’t say. A lot of today’s players are just simply very very soft mentally,” Smith said. “Literally, there are players that I haven’t spoken to in years because I said they played like garbage the night before. That’s it. Or they showed up in a playoff game and disappeared. Last time I checked, you are playing in front of thousands of people in person, millions of people watching on television you’re putting your exploits on display for the human eye to witness and when you call it like you see it, it’s like you talked about their momma or their family or loved ones or something like that and it makes no sense what so ever. In that regard I think the game has definitely has changed.”

He also added that today the players are thinking about their brand and how criticism will affect them financially. Things were different in the past, according Smith.

“Back in the day you talked to a lot of guys. Their whole thing is that they wanted the ability to able to confront you, to go face to face, man to man and have a conversation with you. They might question your knowledge, they might question your know-how, they might question your sources, they might question a multitude of things. But if you were somebody that was willing to walk into an arena, particularly inside of a locker room and you made yourself accessible to them they might rip you a nude one but after that you can shake hands and move on because you were willing to listen what they had to say and vice versa.”