The NBA has to be viewed through several different prisms. The NBA of about '83-'93 was a golden age. By '94 the offensive quality of the league started to drop precipitously and the quality of basketball slowly declined throughout the rest of the decade. By 2000 it was nearly unwatchable, but the rules changes, and two great teams that should have won titles but had them stolen, the Kings and Suns, helped to usher in a much better and more interesting brand of basketball with influences from European styles of play.
A great shot is when you pull it off. A smart shot is when you don't have the guts to try.