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The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Introducing the next generation of the NFL and NBA

The feel-old-yet-ification of pro athletes

It’s that time. Every 10-15 years, pro sports shifts toward the new generation. What was once Russell Westbrook or Aaron Rodgers, is now Shai Gilgious-Alexander or Jalen Hurts. Your favorite childhood athletes are getting old, and it’s time to make space for the future of pro sports.

In Sep of 2023, Joe Burrow signed a five-year contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals, worth up to a whopping $275 million. This makes Burrow the highest paid NFL player of all time. But he wasn’t alone in his singing: Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers, Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles all signed $260 million plus contracts. This new QB room contains the faces of the NFL. Tom Brady’s retirement in February of 2023 started the beginning of the end for the 2010’s NFL stars, with money and stardom higher than ever, and the NFL’s salary cap increasing by over $30 million per team.

The new look NFL doesn’t stop at contracts though: these rising stars are showing up on the field as well. In Feb. of 2024, Lamar Jackson won his second MVP award in the past four years. The last two Superbowls haven’t had a single QB over the age of 28, with San Francisco 49rs QB Brock Purdy starting at just 24 years old in Super Bowl  LVIII. With each season that goes by, another legendary veteran retires, usually reverting to an NFL debate podcast or Anchoring for ESPN, and another young star steps up to take their place.

The NBA is experiencing a similar metamorphosis, with just one player over 30 on this year’s NBA all star eastern conference roster. The league has also been feeling the reign of San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembenyama, who was just 19 when he was selected first overall in the draft. Wembenyama is being globally praised as the best rookie ever, and garnered similar attention to that of Lebron James as a pre-draft prospect. Wembenyama is a perfect representation of the new generation of sports. He’s not just a rising star, he’s changing what we consider possible in basketball. Despite being the tallest player in the NBA currently, standing at 7 ‘4,” Wembenyama plays similar to a guard, creating an unguardable puzzle for teams all around the league.

Falling just behind Wembenyama in the rookie of the year race, Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren, standing at 7 ‘1,” is doing similar things on the court. This new trend of center-sized players with guard-like talent is proving a problem for NBA defenses, with both players shooting above 50% from the field.

This new wave of NBA talent is picking up plenty of money themselves. Shooting guard Jaylen Brown recently signed a $304 million dollar super max contract extension with the Boston Celtics, making him the highest paid player in NBA history. Additionally, 25 year old Dallas Mavericks Point Guard Luka Dončić is predicted to be the “first $80 million per year NBA player” according to ESPN analytics. Although his price tag is hefty, Dončić is earning it, recently setting an NBA record of six-straight 30-point triple doubles.

It’s not just the NBA’s player base that’s changing, but its fans too. A recent social media trend among younger NBA fans commonly referred as “we done with the 90’s” has new generation NBA fans claiming 90’s players wouldn’t stack up to modern NBA play styles and stars. This is all a result of young stars’ dominance in the NBA. What was once Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant topping Jersey sales, is now Jayson Tatum and Victor Wembanyama.

It’s hard to watch your favorite players fall to the wayside. Seeing our childhood idols be out scored by teenagers is simply soul crushing. So many memories, so many emotions, game-winning touchdown drives, and playoff buzzer beaters. All seemingly forgotten. The high-school athlete who once noted Larry Fitzgerald as his favorite player, has now turned into the high-school athlete who practices his “griddy” celebration after school in order to be more like his favorite WR, Ja’Marr Chase. But it’s ok! It’s time to appreciate the greatness that once was, and get excited for the future of professional sports. Even if you can’t get over the feelings these players once brought, don’t give up on pro sports! After all, not all is lost! Lebron James is still the best player in the NBA.

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About the Contributor
Finley Gober
Finley Gober, Staff Writer

When he finally finishes his mountain of homework, you’ll find Finley Gober spending time with none other than himself. Finley has great interest in music, film, fashion, and writing, and therefore found himself joining the Pinnacle to write about his interests instead of talking at his friends about them. He’s great at starting creative projects, and not as much at finishing them. If you ever need another song for your playlist, or a movie to watch next weekend, Finley is the guy to ask. Most importantly, Finley's favorite movie is “Moonlight”, favorite album is “To Pimp a Butterfly”, and favorite animal is a panda.

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