It’s not a dead horse, just a stagnant one.
Really, when you look at the NBA, and, according to television and attendance numbers, plenty of you still do, the circuit has some stability, it has a following, it has a great deal of history.
Anymore, though, it just lacks energy and excitement. First and foremost, there is a living, (somewhat) breathing entity here, but the pulse is so mind-numbingly steady that it’s boring – which is not exactly what a business built around entertainment and competition strives to achieve.
Yeah, we constantly get the latest LeBron James news and a few dunk fanatics are raving about what athletic pyrotechnics Zach LaVine provided over the weekend, but as far as featured events, this just-completed All-Star Weekend was a dud.
It kind of tells you something about the state of the sport, or, actually, the state of interest in the sport, when arguably the most interesting part of the 2014-15 NBA campaign are the tweets posted by a guy who hasn’t even suited for his team yet … ever.
Joel Embiid … lottery pick, a lot of laughs, but who knows when, if ever, he’ll have an on-court impact on the team that selected him No. 3 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers, never mind the league.
Ironically, attendance around the league is slightly up from a season ago. Some squads are better, some worse, but, mostly, they’re about the same. TV numbers remain OK, or relatively understandable considering we live in the NBA’s dark ages of viewership following the retirement of Michael Jordan, arguably the game’s greatest player and without question its top marketed “brand” of all time.
But something is amiss. When you have an electric talent such as Russell Westbrook play lights-out in the All-Star Game, held at Madison Square Garden no less, and it does little to send shivers down the spines of the sporting masses, something definitely is amiss.
The players are still great. The things they’re able to do are often spectacular. There are NBA characters and personalities just as fascinating as there were in years, decades, if not generations past. Fundamentals and rules have been lax for a long time; there is no pox that today’s pro game is placing on the integrity of how it was played in the past.
Perhaps the NBA needs a new marketing strategy to reap in new rewards, to drive new traffic to the arenas and HD screens. Maybe it could take a pointer or two from the college game, which never seems to struggle with grabbing some “newbies” while maintaining the fans it already has.
Whatever the deal is, change is needed.
Unless, of course, it doesn’t mind standing still as other sports and entertainment outlets race on by.
- Jack Kerwin is the Director of Communications at the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.