The National Basketball Association is regarded by many as being the leading basketball league in the world and it attracts many of the top players to the North American based competition. There are 30 teams in total, with the bulk of them based in the United States and one team playing in Canada.
There have been many fantastic teams and individual players throughout the history of the NBA. The 2016/17 Golden State Warriors, 1995/96 Chicago Bulls, 1970/71 Milwaukee Bucks, 1971/72 Los Angeles Lakers, and 1985/86 Boston Celtics are regarded as being some of the greatest teams in the history of the NBA, entertaining not only their own supporters but basketball fans across the planet.
In terms of individual names, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Larry Bird are just some of the players that spring to mind when discussing the legends of the sport. Many of these players were the reason why people attended or tuned into live NBA games and enjoyed following the basketball action throughout the season. Indeed, between 1980 and 2000, the NBA surged in popularity and the majority of players highlighted above participated in the league at some stage during this period of time. It was truly a golden era for basketball and the NBA was leading the way.
However, Fast forward to 2021 and things are not looking as rosy for the NBA as they were in the two decades of the 1980’s and 1990’s. There is no way of sugar coating the fact that the NBA ratings have dropped in recent years. You only have to look at the ratings for the 2019 and 2020 NBA Finals to get a quick understanding of the significant drop we have seen in the NBA ratings. Granted, there were different circumstances surrounding the 2020 NBA Finals thanks to COVID-19, but if anything, sports fans should have been thrilled to have top level basketball back on their screens but that is not how it turned out.
In 2020, the NBA Finals received an average of 7.5 million viewers a game, but this was down an incredible 48% from the 2019 Finals. This is something that cannot be ignored, and the NBA needs to act to reverse the decline and revitalise the fanbase but what can the league do to generate more interest?
A look back at times when the NBA was most popular shows a highly competitive environment. Even when they were star players who were clearly superior to the majority of the other players in the NBA, teams and individuals pushed each other hard and no one ever had it easy. Michael Jordan was regularly pushed to his limits and commissioner, David Stern, did what he could to make the NBA competitive, even if it meant stepping in and stopping a player moving to a different team. A good example of this came in 2011, when Stern prevented Chris Paul from moving to the Los Angeles Lakers as he thought it would make the league less competitive.
Now under the guidance of Adam Silver, the NBA has become less competitive and that needs to change in order to rebuild the fanbase. An uncompetitive league puts fans off for a number of reasons and even those who enjoy having a wager on the NBA may choose to look elsewhere if things do not improve. If you are interested in having a bet on the NBA or any other sports, visit this site where you will find reviews and ratings of the best online sportsbooks.
In terms of the best NBA players, it is only the top player who should be earning the biggest amount of money and getting the max deals. There is now too much guaranteed money in the NBA for players without having to strive to become the best players in the league. Signing too many players to a max deal, with huge sums of money guaranteed can lead to a reduction in the desire to perform well and improve. So, reducing the number of players on huge deals could make a difference to the competitiveness of the NBA and win back fans. If players were required to prove themselves every season, it is only going to improve the competitiveness of the competition.
Increased player movement is also an issue, especially as far as star players are concerned. Fans love a great player but if that player moves from team to team, the teams in question are not keeping those fans, who are choosing to follow the player.
In terms of the structure of the NBA, perhaps the current format of regular season games is too long? Some teams and players know they are going to reach the playoffs and do not have to be at their best, all of the time, during the regular season. That means a drop in level so a change in the structure of the regular season could work to revitalise the fan base. Fewer games could even be a possibility, with more riding on the outcome of those games.