The best basketball teams in the world are going head to head in a breath-taking race to be crowned kings of the hardwood for 2017. These clashes bring the best basketball Mankind has to offer. There will be drama; there will be fights, and there will be blood.
It’s at this point in the season where I am especially thankful that the sport that chooses me was basketball. We NBA fans have just so much to be thankful for. I could go on and on and on about why I love the NBA - and why I think it’s the best sports league in the world - but for the interest of time here are my five main points.
5. It is extremely well run
The NBA front office is a well-oiled machine - efficient and effective, always moving forward. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has dealt with many difficult issues. The cases of domestic violence amongst its players, the issue of concussion, and the naming of the Washington Redskins.
In soccer, the FIFA board has suffered from corruption for years and in 2015 it finally bubbled over. Several high-level officials and associates were found guilty in a scandal that saw Sepp Blatter finally removed from office.
In contrast, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has done a fine job since coming into office in 2014. His handling of the Donald Sterling incident was superb and he looks to be steering the league in the direction for many years to come.
Every year new rules are brought in to make the game better, to adapt to an ever-changing landscape. These rules usually manage to benefit everyone involved, from the players to the refs, the fans and the owners.
And it’s not just on the court that the NBA is leading the way. It also boasts the first full-time female assistant coach of any of America’s major sports leagues in Becky Hammon, proving to everyone that if you have the ability then nothing can hold you back in the NBA.
4. Financial Benefits
Simply put, the NBA enables its players to earn the highest average wages in the sporting world. According to Forbes, the average NBA salary at the start of the 2016/17 season was $6,250,000. This is over $1.8 million more than the MLB and over $4.1 million more than the NFL. In an article by the Daily Record, the average EPL salary was just over $3 million which is still less than half of what the average NBA player makes.
NBA athletes are paid extremely well.
On top of their huge salaries, they are also extremely marketable athletes. You can see their faces, unlike in the NFL on the NHL. In arenas you sit very close to the athletes so you feel a more personal relationship with them. They can earn money from selling their shoes, they get Jersey revenue and there are also TV commercials as well.
All these opportunities provide an extremely powerful incentive to players to make a name for themselves, to work hard in the offseason and take their game to the next level. And in consequence, this drives up the average quality of players in the league, providing us, the consumer, with an ever-improving product.
It’s just economics, people.
3. Sharing out the Glory
In soccer, they have the FIFA Ballon d’Or, which is given to the best player of the last year. But if you’re a defender, you have no chance. Messi and Ronaldo between them have won every year since 2008. In football, attackers just make more of a contribution to their team’s success than defenders.
It’s the same in the NFL. You have to go back to 1988 to find an MVP that wasn’t a quarterback or a running back. The structure of the game just doesn’t allow other positions to be as effective.
In the NBA, every single position has at least three different MVP winners. The game is simply more inclusive. This is because there are only five players from one team on the court at a time, and all of them are needed throughout the game to be successful. This allows players from any position to make their mark on the game if they are good enough.
In soccer everyone wants to be an attacker, defenders just aren’t as cool. Who really looks at Football and says. “You know, I just really want to be a kicker”?
Everyone wants to be the QB because they get the most fame, the most money and the most responsibility.
Only in the NBA is there such diversity in the MVP winners when it comes to the position they play. If you are good enough then you can be the best player in the league, regardless of what position you play.
2. The Infrastructure
According to a study by HowMuch.net the top five sports leagues by revenue earned are: the NFL first, MLB second, the EPL third, the NBA fourth and the NHL fifth. It’s safe to say these are the most powerful sports leagues in the world.
Of these five, which one can generate the sustained level of excitement that the NBA can provide for its fans?
In soccer, the team kick the ball around and fans only celebrate special moments such as goals, great tackles and attacking runs. In the NFL, the game stops every few seconds so they can talk about what play to run, then they execute it.
In the NBA, a team can play up to 110 competitive games a year. Each game has a high tempo due to the nature of basketball. Every possession has a high probability of leading to something to cheer about. You have the thrill of a powerful dunk, the awe of an acrobatic layup, the anticipation of the 3 pointers.
The game is back and forth, back and forth.
There’s no time for relaxing, you have to keep your eyes fixed at all times, and you can do this from your courtside seat. Where else on Earth do you get the chance to have your favorite players jumping into your lap to save a loose ball? You can literally reach out and touch the athletes.
This huge perk has led to some pretty funny highlights over the years and is the gift that keeps on giving. Only in the NBA can you get the comedian Chris Rock talking trash to Kobe Bryant whilst sitting right next to him.
1. The Athletes
National Basketball Association, or Nation’s Best Athletes? A little cheesy I know, but I think it gets the point across. The NBA easily has the best athletes in the world.
No other major sports league in the world has the physical demands that the NBA does. These are some of the most incredible human specimens you will ever see.
The combinations of size, strength, speed, agility and durability and just mind boggling. Just look at LeBron James.
He stands 6 foot 8, weighs 250lbs and has a reported 40-inch vertical leap with a 40 yard dash time of 4.40 seconds, a time only 0.18 seconds slower than the NFL combine record.
He is the most physically impressive human being I’ve ever seen and probably will ever see.
LeBron may be the cream of the crop, but the NBA has been filled with incredible specimens ever since its birth in 1946. From Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving right the way to Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Russell Westbrook, the NBA has attracted some of the most gifted athletes on the planet.
And thankfully that looks set to continue. The average NBA player is 9 inches taller (6 foot 7) than the average male (5 foot 10). It’s easily the tallest major sport in the world. These athletes (literally) stand head and shoulders above the rest.