PHILADELPHIA -- When the Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday things are bound to get a little physical between the two bitter rivals who have combined to win 32 of the 62 titles in NBA history.
That's quite all right with Kobe Bryant. He'd like to raise the stakes and increase the contact.
"I'm old-school," Bryant said after scoring 22 of his 24 points in the second half of the Lakers' 99-91 win at Philadelphia on Friday.
"I'd like for us to go back to the old rules," Bryant said. "Get rid of the 'crutch defense,' known as the zone defense, and have guys guard man-to-man and stuff like that [and allow] hand checking and all that. I think that's better basketball."
The league started to allow zone defense at the beginning of the 2001-02 season. Before then, if a player attempted to guard a space on the floor rather than another player, the team would be whistled for illegal defense. The offending team would receive a warning from the officials for the first instance of illegal defense and would be charged with a technical foul for each subsequent violation.
Hand checking first became outlawed at the start of the 1994-95 season and shortly thereafter, in 1997-98, defenders became prohibited from using their forearms to guard against players facing the basket. In 1999-2000, the league eliminated all contact by a defender with his hands and forearms both in the backcourt and frontcourt, except on offensive players who caught the ball below the free-throw line extended.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.