Retired Raja Bell: today’s NBA is harder to control


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Today’s NBA is not what it used to be 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. This is not just an opinion of one man – many retired NBA players agree with this. One of them is Raja Bell, who has recently spoken to TalkinHoopz.

“I think today there’s less control from the coaching perspective than we played,” Bell said. “The NBA is a money-making machine, it is entertainment. But basketball is being played a lot more different now than when we played.”

According to Bell – the NBA is hurt when coaches cannot control their locker room.

“It used to be different, you had a coach and maybe your star player who could give interviews, while today the media has changed it. People can tweet before or after the game, there’s a lot more information coming out, so sometimes it is hard to control your organization,” Bell explained.

Bell also agreed on the fact that today NBA experiences a different kind of era, without such great coaches like Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley or Don Nelson.

“During that time, everyone knew who these coaches were. Today NBA has coaches that are only 6-7 years older than the players themselves. This makes it harder for coaches to “rule with an iron fist” so to speak,” he said.

Bell went on to add that in order to have a great team, a great organization, you gotta have a Gregg Popovich – someone who is going to be there regardless of how much money a star player makes.

“And when you don’t have that, as a result, the product suffers,” he said.

Bell was also asked about the leading stars of today’s NBA – Lebron James and Kevin Durant.

“I’ve had the pleasure to play against both of them when they came into the league,” he said. “Not now, when they became the monsters that they are. So I can honestly tell my kids that I’ve played against both of them.”

“If I had to build a franchise, I would pick Lebron, because he’s physically more imposing, he’s a better facilitator, he can still take it over when necessary,” Bell said.

He didn’t put Durant down though.

“Kevin Durant is basically impossible to guard, with his height, ball handling skills, his shot and everything. He does a lot more for his team to win than Lebron does, who has other stars to back him up when necessary,” he said.

Speaking of his own career, Bell said that he’s not coming back to the NBA, as he believes he’s not on the level to help out a team.

“Earlier this year I shut it down,” he said. “I’m 37, I have three young boys, I do miss it, but physically it wasn’t realistic for me to keep training and keep putting my body through what I’ve been putting it through for the last 20 years.”

Bell noted that he isn’t giving up on basketball completely, as today he’s working in basketball camps, and sometimes does color commentary on basketball games for ESPN.

Commenting on the NY Knicks team not signing him to a contract, Bell said he was really hoping to play for the Knicks, and sadly it didn’t work out.

Being a free agent in 2013, Bell worked out for the Knicks in New York, and almost received a consideration for a roster spot.

The Knicks have been intrigued by the outside shooting and defensive versatility that Bell is known for, and in the workout Bell shot well and outplayed New York’s incoming rookies in one on one drills, a source told RealGM a while ago.

The retired guard said while there’s always of piece of him that wants to play, he’s not physically prepared to answer the door if an NBA team comes knocking.

“To be ready to help somebody in the playoffs, you have to be trained and have to be in shape,” Bell said. “I don’t think I’d be able to live up to my end of the bargain at this point.”

Bell leaves behind career averages of 9.9 points, 1.7 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game over his 12-year career.

Known for his pesky defense, the former Suns standout found himself on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team in 2007, and All-Defensive Second Team in 2008. As he transitions away from the hardwood, Bell continues to stay close to the game, running basketball camps in the Miami area.

Bell also works as a broadcaster for ESPN 360 and ESPN U.

“I’m enjoying retirement, and trying to find out what the next chapter is going to hold for me,” he said.

Bell played 12 seasons in the NBA, for Philadelphia Sixers, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors.

He averaged career-high 14.7 ppg for two straight seasons for the Phoenix Suns in 2006-2007.

In total, Bell played in 706 NBA games (started in 479), holding career averages of 9.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg and 28.1 mpg.

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