By Patrick Barron, Opinion Writer
I love basketball. From watching the numerous games growing up or playing basketball video games, the love of the game runs deep. It goes without saying I follow the National Basketball Association year round. By the way, my favorite team is the Los Angeles Lakers and my favorite player all time is Kobe Bryant. Mark my words the NBA future is bright, more international than ever and will the most popular sport league in America.
What’s not to love about the game of basketball. You need a hoop, ball, and sneakers. You can play alone or play against others, the choice is yours. While there is a level of talent disparity found in all levels of play with enough practice on the right skills, an individual could hold their own against outstanding players.
The other sports do not stand a chance against the NBA. The multi-billion dollar sport is spreading its wings worldwide with major markets upcoming in places such as China or India. A quick analysis of the current top sports in America will highlight why the NBA has few worries for the future.
Football. The current controversy surrounding the National Football League (NFL) has hurt its ratings. Whether it be some player’s peaceful national anthem protests, domestic violence cases against players, or the prevalence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease found in former players, the league has a bevy of issues to overcome.
Hockey. It has not been an immensely popular sport in America. In addition, it costs a fair amount for people to involve themselves in the sport. Equipment fees, league fees, and even ice provides a barrier to entry for some populations in the country. However, the game has passionate fans and when the seasons occurs, you know who teams they represent.
Baseball. Once America’s pastime has been the ever-reliable sport of the spring season. However, the pace of the game is worrisome in the around-the-clock entertainment options. The current generation of children is not picking up the game as previous one done. Would they rather watch a three-hour game or be on their smartphones?
While some may wonder why soccer has not been brought up at this point, there are several reasons for its notable exclusion. Although it is the most popular sport internationally, this is not the case in America. At this particular juncture, its popularity does not rival other top sports in America.
This brings us back to the NBA. The league is progressive, inclusive and more popular than ever. According to the NBA, 108 international players were on various teams by the start of the 2017-2018 season. This number represents a substantial increase from the scarce number of international players in the league during the 1990s.
Moreover, basketball influenced popular culture, in particular fashion. Found in basketball sneakers or fashionable players its influence illuminates beyond the game into everyday life. So much so, the NBA All-star weekend, an annual event representing some of the best of the league has a fashion show during that time. Players such as superstar point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook is on the covers of various important fashion magazines. Even his pregame tunnel walk has photographers taking shots of his outfit.
In addition, the current champions Golden State Warriors look poised to make another dominant run in the post season. The two time MVP, two time finals champion and superstar point guard Stephen Curry meteoric rise has perhaps inspired millions of basketball players worldwide that they too can dominate the sport. Kids and adults alike are familiar with the names Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, or even Draymond Green.
The NBA has it all, the diehard fans, the players, and level of influence on popular culture. It is inexpensive to start playing the game, and its simple nature helps explain its massive popularity. Therefore, watch out other sports, the NBA is here to stay.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 20th print edition.
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