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How does ‘old school’ basketball stack up against today’s?

Peat compares and contrasts
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Placer graduate Bernhard Peat played professional basketball in Germany for 17 years, from 1979-1996. He took some time to explain how his experiences as a professional player may compare to that of NBA players today. Q: How does an average salary in professional European basketball, when you played, compare to what NBA players make today? A: “Things have changed so dramatically over the last 20 years, when I look back as opposed to now. Today’s game is kind of like a big business, a big corporation. It’s just a huge machine, which is propelled by big time money, you know, TV rights. There are a lot of rich people that go to the games. There is a lot of money that is at stake. You can’t even compare it to when I played. The minimum salary in my day was $28,000. Nowadays it’s over $900,000 for players that don’t even play. In my day the NBA was televised once a week, on Sundays.” Q: How many games did you play on average in a season and how did you negotiate your contracts? A: “Over in Europe we played 28 games of season games. Obviously now it’s about 50. We probably averaged about 50 games a season with pre-season. It was a one year contract or two. You always had to renew your contract based on the way you play. Now they want all this guaranteed money for four or five years. You could get hurt your first year or not play well. It’s almost like there is no incentive to get better in that regard. If these boys had a yearly contract, they would bust their butts every year.” Q: What will you miss (for at least two weeks) about watching the NBA? A: “It’s big time wrestling I call it. It’s not really real basketball in terms of how it should be played. They play a lot of different defenses that aren’t exactly pure basketball. I think European basketball is more pure basketball. It’s more entertainment basketball for the spectators where they can accentuate the players’ athleticism. People want to see the glory shots.” Q: What will you watch instead of NBA? A: “I’m watching a lot of the old NBA hardwood classics. Those boys (former players from the 70’s) can play defense. These guys (current players) are more athletic. They are stronger. Everybody lifts weights. The game is less team oriented. That’s why I watch college games or good high school basketball games. I want to see some good basketball. I just compare it to big time wrestling. It’s not real wrestling. That’s just my analogy of it. Don’t get me wrong, there are great players in the NBA. They are the best athletes in the world. It’s just the style of play that’s changed.”