Via Grantland... New York used to be the indisputable king of breeding basketball talent. Now, not even close. A great article, but way too long to post here. Just gonna paste in some paragraphs.
This is not a troll thread, just a very interesting article about trends in basketball history. Gotta appreciate NY's impact on the NBA, especially in the past.
I'd love to get some NY posters' takes.
The Mecca in Decline - Why doesn’t New York City produce elite NBA talent like it used to?
...Once, New York was home to more basketball talent than any other city on the planet. No more. As for what changed, theories vary. An older scout says it’s all about attitude. A younger coach says they only lack muscle. Some of the NBA’s remaining New Yorkers blame the city’s emphasis on skills of dwindling value to today’s teams. Others cite greed, poverty, overcrowding, or — why not? — video games, social media, and YouTube. It’s all flailing guesswork aimed at making sense of a decline no one saw coming but everyone watched happen. And though the explanations differ, on the central point, they all agree.
New York is no longer the greatest basketball city on earth. Right now, it’s not even close.
When we talk about the decline of New York City basketball, we’re not talking about the Knicks’ interminable incompetence or the Nets’ lavish and misguided efforts to build a contender. We’re talking about the city’s footprint in the NBA: Years ago, New York’s playgrounds and high schools served as the most fertile breeding ground for the game’s elite. Today, you’re just as likely to become a star if you’re born in Los Angeles, Toronto, or Raleigh.
In the 1970s, eight different New Yorkers made All-Star teams. That was more than the states of Texas, New Jersey, Florida, and Georgia combined.1 When Julius Erving wanted to test himself, he rode the train into Manhattan from Long Island. When Wilt Chamberlain wanted to prove he stood above the best in the world, he made his way north from Philly.
Regardless of whom you consider a true New York product, you won’t have a hard time finding evidence to show the five boroughs’ decline. How about this: North Carolina’s Research Triangle region has produced the same number of McDonald’s All Americans in the last six years as New York. Not to mention that in the last decade, the Toronto suburb of Brampton has yielded more top-five NBA draft picks. It’s not only an issue of elite talent. According to Mode Analytics, New York state ranked 27th per capita this past season in supplying players for Division I men’s college basketball programs. If you want to play D-I ball, the raw chances of making it are better if you’re raised in Delaware or Wyoming than in New York. There are more Californians than New Yorkers in the ACC right now, and more Indianans in the Big East.
We can keep going. Not a single New Yorker was taken in the first round of June’s NBA draft. And before last season, the Student Sports high school basketball poll had only one New York team (Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln) in its top 25. The same poll had two top-25 teams from Jacksonville.
But cities are judged by their stars. Los Angeles has Russell Westbrook and Paul Pierce; Chicago has Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade. “Let’s think about this for a minute,” says Macky Bergman, a New York native who runs a youth basketball program in lower Manhattan. “Who’s the best player to come out of New York in the last 25 years? I mean, you’ve got Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Joakim Noah. The fact that we’re even talking about those guys lets you know it’s a problem.”
Which brings us back to Bergman’s question. Who’s the best New York product of the last 25 years? “If you really think about [it],” he says, “the best one is probably Stephon Marbury. Stephon Marbury! I mean, good player and everything — even better than people give him credit for — but really? That’s the best we can do? And we’re supposed to be OK with that?”
That moment foreshadowed New York’s current talent shortage. “Today,” Konchalski says, “the playgrounds are basically empty. You see a few immigrant kids, that’s it. Everyone else is inside doing who knows what.” He’s sitting at a corner table in a deli just off Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, talking between sips of soup from a Styrofoam cup. He stopped in on his way to Midwood High School, where he’ll watch a kid he’s heard might possibly be a low D-I prospect. These days, in New York, that’s often as good as it gets.
New York has never produced football talent. Same for baseball. The reason, cited for decades: no space. Today, you’re starting to hear the same argument come up with regard to basketball. Other places have space, and space can be filled with regulation-size courts and hangarlike weight rooms, few of which can be found in New York.
Only now, the parks are less crowded. Instead of seeing one kid evade a couple dozen defenders, you can walk by without seeing anyone at all. “Now they’re playing video games,” says Maurice Hicks, who coached Kemba Walker at the onetime Harlem powerhouse Rice High School, now defunct. “They’re on Twitter and Instagram.”
Fine, yes, kids like technology. But that sounds less like a New York issue and more like someone bemoaning how things have changed, right? It’s not like Texans don’t have access to Snapchat, and they’ve still managed to produce five of ESPN’s top-15 prospects in the country this year. “But if I’m in Texas,” says Hicks, “and it’s January and I want to work on my game, I get in the car and drive to the park, where it’s 60 degrees outside. Or I go to one of the gyms where I can get some shots in. I’ve got options. If I’m in Harlem, maybe I gotta go outside and shovel snow. Or I gotta go to a gym that’s not top-notch. You know what? Maybe I’ll just sit here and play NBA 2K instead.”
It may sound like a stretch, but Hicks is getting at something. Decades ago, New York dominated only inasmuch as the rest of the country — hell, the rest of the world — failed to reach the city’s standard. But it may not be New York’s fault that the balance of power has shifted. “Other places are just catching up,” says Mark Jerome, who runs the Riverside Church Hawks AAU program. “I don’t even think the level of talent in New York is dropping off. They’re just better.”
In 1973-74, one of every 15.9 players in the NBA graduated from a New York City high school. (That’s if you assume 15 players per team. Obviously, rosters fluctuate over the course of a season.) By 1983-84, the number had dropped to one of every 17.25, and in 1993-94, it was one in 25.31. The numbers for this past season? One in 90. That’s partly because so many New Yorkers leave the city during high school, but if you change the formula to account for players who spent at least one season at a New York City school, then it’s one of every 37.7. One out of every 37.5 Americans lives in New York. The city was once vastly overrepresented in the NBA. Now it seems to have regressed almost exactly to the mean.
And it goes on to other theories. Highly recommended reading. I hadn't realized that New York has fallen so far in producing basketball talent. I just blindly assumed all along the state/city was still the dominant force in making NBA players.