Remember when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar terrorized opponents with his signature hook shot? When Shaquille O'Neal shattered backboards with his might? How about when Dwight Howard scored at will in one-on-one situations underneath?
Those days are long over.
The NBA has changed, and it has turned into a competition that's dominated by guard play. Even forwards and centers are forced to stretch out and knock down the 3-point shot.
But a question remains.
Does the men's switch in post play forecast the future of the women's game?
USA Basketball Women's U16 National Team coach Mark Campbell believes the true-center position is still alive in women's basketball, and he doesn't force his players to expand their range just to conform to the standards set by the NBA.
"I think there's much more ceiling and teaching the post play in the women's game than in the men's," Campbell said Monday night at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. "The women's game is much more technical and less freelance. One of the things I like about being a women's coach is having all five players together rather than an isolation game."
Campbell, in his first year for Team USA, doesn't expect women's post play technique to change in the near future . However, he said it could switch if NCAA and high school teams change their offensive philosophy . He said it comes down to how players are bred from a young age, but he's not focused on being the one to change things.
Team USA 6-foot-7 center Lauren Betts is cautiously optimistic that there will be a difference in women's post play sometime in the next 10-15 years.
"You never know," Betts said. "The game is always changing. For sure, I know a lot of bigs are trying to get as many outside shots as we can. I don't think it will become a true guard game, but I think more bigs will be shooting."
During Team USA's exhibition against The Force Basketball, a local AAU team, in preparation for the FIBA Americas U16 Championship from Sunday to June 22 in Puerto Aysen, Chile, Betts' farthest shot was a short-corner jumper from about 12 feet . Of course, she made it.
Nonetheless, the incoming sophomore at Grandview High School in Centennial didn't need to stretch the floor due to her height advantage in the exhibition. She spent nearly all her time in the post, catching lobs and scoring with ease. On defense, she accumulated more blocks than you could count on one hand.
Betts quickly gave credit to post players in women's basketball, calling them smarter than the men in certain situations.
"We think before we get the ball," Betts said. "Once we get the ball, we don't just throw up whatever. We actually think."
Serving as Betts' teammate on Team USA for the summer is 6-5 center Amari DeBerry, who happens to be an avid fan of the WNBA. In order to give a fair comparison, she drew on Teaira McCowan (Indiana Fever) as an example of a true center and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) and A'ja Wilson (Los Vegas Aces) as the prototypical stretch-five.
For reference, McCowan is 6-7, while Stewart and Wilson are each 6-4.
"NBA players have to be able to do everything," DeBerry said. "In the WNBA, I feel like there are more solid centers than anything else because of their size and ability."
Betts and DeBerry said they're working on the 3-point game outside of Team USA events. DeBerry even has permission from her high school coach to fire away, along with bringing the ball up the floor off a rebound.
Entering her junior year at Williamsville South High School in Buffalo, New York, DeBerry said she thinks women's post play could eventually swing to how the men are using the four and five positions, but she's not entirely sold.
"I feel like if people step up, then yeah," DeBerry said of women potentially being forced to expand their range. "We'll just have to wait and see. If there's an end-of-the-game situation, and you're the one open for the 3, you have to be ready for those type of things."
Even though Betts and DeBerry, two of the nation's best underneath, think the women's game could face a fork in the road sooner than later, Campbell has stood with his claim that coaches are going to continue utilizing talent on the roster — rather than calling for a change within specific athletes.
"In the NBA, kids are shooting a lot more 3s," Campbell said. "If it's a versatile talent, like the Golden State Warriors, they will use it differently. If it's not, they will get the most out of it. That's the great thing about coaching. You're going to be as good as your talent.
"You can use your talent for people to give their gifts away to make everyone better."