At one point another, you may have heard someone say that basketball is becoming a truly global sport, and with the expansion of the NBA in recent years, that just begs the question: what makes basketball so appealing?
Icons That Transcend Sports
There’s no doubt that the NBA is a star-driven league, however, nobody could have predicted just how much larger than life players would become with the advent and explosion of social media. While NBA stars are typically known solely for their on court exploits, there’s no denying that over the past few years, many have begun to have just as much of a presence off the court as well. From Lebron’s response to Trump’s “shut up and dribble” comments to Kevin Durant giving away four full ride scholarships to individuals at the Boys and Girls Club, Luc Mbah a Moute paving the way for other Cameroonian players to succeed in the NBA, Joel Embiid helping build home in Africa (second picture), and much more, NBA players have truly become polarizing figures in society. And with those exploits bolstering their personal brands, the NBA also stands to benefit as it is a direct reflection of the type of characters the league has to offer.
Progressiveness of the League
Under the leadership of Adam Silver, the NBA has arguably become one of the most, if not the most progressive league in professional sports. Unlike the majority of professional sports leagues, the NBA is not only encourages players to express themselves and fight for what they believe in, but chooses to honor and celebrate moments in time that matter to players and fans. From the celebration of Black History through equality gear to Chinese New Year uniforms, listening to fans and the addition of female referees, the NBA has built a reputation for inclusion, acceptance, and transparency. That includes, but isn’t limited to the memeing of or criticism of the league office.
While that may sound bizarre since they still fine individuals for openly criticizing referees, it’s clear that the NBA understands the culture of the league and its players and attempts to play off that. It isn’t just the league that plays off the culture created, however, but increasingly, so too are organizations, advertisers, and the media.
Not long ago, the Hawks posted a thank you video for Carmelo Anthony, who was traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder then waived five days later. This season, after questioning the moon landing on a podcast, the Kings decided to troll curry by playing footage of the moon landing during player introductions. Nike launched an ad featuring a flat earth after Kyrie Irving questioned earth’s shape, Foot Locker clowned D’Angelo Russell after he recorded a private conversation with Nick Young where he revealed he was cheating on his fiance and reporters have been responsible for producing incredibly creative phrases (copypastas) from interviews with players. That being said, the NBA in many regards, not only creates culture, but also feeds off it.
Imperfect Nature of the Game
Despite harboring the absolute best talent the world has to offer, at the end of the day, NBA players are still human and prone to mistakes. From missed defensive rotations to a lack of effort or court awareness, players routinely make mistakes. And while that may seem like a bad thing, the league has embraced those moments and even have multiple segments dedicated to just that (Shaqtin’ a Fool and Weekend Whoopsies). On top of that, with the league priding itself on providing constant action, defense becomes all that more important. Despite this, defenders will never completely stop opposing teams from scoring and the league wouldn’t have it any other way, as constant action and scoring are two major attractions for fans. Can you imagine if basketball were like futball or baseball where scoring is rare? I know I can’t. That’s not to say though, that defense isn’t valuable, but rather it’s rare and when it’s good, it can be exciting to watch – it’s just not what most people tune in for and the NBA recognizes that.
Involving Fans Internationally
It’s no secret that over the last few years, the NBA has attempted to globalize and expand both its reach and the game of basketball as a whole. To do so, the NBA has not only hosted a variety of games regular season games world wide in places like Africa, Mexico, and most recently, London, but exhibition matches against non-NBA teams. In fact, according to NBA.com, over 127 individuals from around the have league visited 40 different countries.
While that may not necessarily seem like a lot of people, or that big of a deal, due to the iconic nature of players nowadays, simple events like camps or shoe signings abroad can attract hundreds, if not thousands of individuals. This not only helps the NBA to grow its brand, but offers players an opportunity to interact with fans abroad and potentially garner new ones. On top of that, the league bolsters over 100 players from foreign countries. Given that the maximum amount of players at any given time is 450, that’s also a staggering figure, but helps to show just how diverse the league is.
With so many reasons to like and watch the NBA, I don’t think that there’s any one particular thing that draws people in. Rather, I think what makes the league so appealing is the fact that it has something for everyone. From hardcore fans to casual viewers, the NBA is filled with a variety of wholesome moments, pettiness, drama, highlights, lowlights, and meme worthy news that can caters to nearly every type of fan. On top of that, as mentioned previously, with the advent of social media and the league under the progressive leadership of Adam Silver, players have just as much presence off the court as they do on the court.
If you would like to be one of the first to learn about some of the latest league news, be sure to check out r/NBA on Reddit. Essentially, it is a conglomeration of everything NBA related from trade rumors to highlights, and memes. Users upload content and the ones that are the most “upvoted” make their way to the front page of subreddit.