No one will remember this now, but, many moons ago, the NBA didn’t even have the resources to broadcast games live.
Once upon a time, two men began an ascent together, and they took an entire league with them. Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson entered the NBA when the league needed something fresh, and they did so at exactly the time the league needed it. The NBA was struggling for viewership and revenue. They weren’t even broadcasting games live. You’d get re-airs.
What made “Magic” and Bird even more interesting was the fact that they both were polar opposites, at least on the surface. One was black. One was white. They played on opposite coasts. One shared the spotlight in Los Angeles on a team that will forever be synonymous with the word “showtime”. The other was a grimy and gritty, blue collar type, and he was embraced by a city that shared that identity, Boston.
Somewhere along the lines, other stars like Patrick Ewing found their way to New York. Hakeem Olajuwon would set up shop in Houston. Michael Jordan would change the game in Chicago. The NBA had exactly what it wanted, big stars who were spearheading successful franchises in big cities. Fast-forward to 2017. The New York Knicks can’t play. Neither can the Los Angeles Lakers. The Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets are decent but not dominant. Let’s be honest. Does anyone believe they actually have a shot at a title when looking at their makeup and the rest of the league?
For the past 15 years or so, we’ve watched Lebron James elevate the Cleveland Cavaliers twice. We’ve witnessed a team from the 3rd-largest city in Texas, the San Antonio Spurs, elevate itself to one of the NBA’s premier franchises. That would be fine if the NBA was the money machine the NFL is, but it isn’t. It’s not even close.
The NFL can survive with a small market team, the Green Bay Packers for instance, being dominant. The NFL is the only television product that’s broadcast on EVERY major network. The NBA can’t state that, nor can they do what the NFL has done with continued success by small-market teams. Football builds the brand of its’ individual franchises and individual stars are a byproduct of that success. The NBA chose a different route. They pushed the names on the backs of the jerseys. Unfortunately, players move around to different teams, or they get old and retire.
The NBA’s formula for success has killed the idea of team loyalty. In a sense, they’ve created free agent fans.
The NBA needs big stars in New York and Los Angeles. “Magic” and Bird didn’t end up in the towns they did by accident. Professional basketball needs for Chicago and Houston to be interesting. What they don’t want is to have their biggest star in Cleveland and for one of their greatest dynasties to be in San Antonio. That could work in pro football. It’s never worked in pro basketball. Cleveland and San Antonio are two spectacular sports towns, but the facts are the facts. From a media standpoint, they’ll never be New York.
What makes things even worse is the guys from San Antonio don’t even talk.
Geoffrey Knox, Exposure Sports Editor
Geoffrey Knox is the creator and the owner of The Thunderstorm Hip Hop Sports & Entertainment Network, co-editor for Inside The Iggles and a contributor for Saturday Blitz. Bookmark Thunderstorm Media on BlogtalkRadio.com, iTunes, TuneIn and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @GQ_4_Eva, @stormradio66 @stormsports66 & @insideiggles
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