Okay, why would anyone ever watch the NBA?


photo via ClutchPoints

Why do you put two cents in when it’s only a penny for your thoughts? Can a cross-eyed teacher control his pupils? Why do we have to pay a toll on “freeways?” Throughout time, thousands of questions have been asked that cannot be answered. In my short 18 years traversing the vast territory of Akron, there is one such question that has boggled my mind:

Why is the NBA one of the most popular American professional sporting leagues?

Really, I’m asking. Why? Personally, I don’t think that the NBA provides the most entertaining basketball in the country. The NCAA has mastered the art of entertainment as far as basketball goes. From early-season heavyweight bouts to the tournament dubbed “March Madness,” college basketball will always be more entertaining than the NBA. 

Furthermore, the NBA is the the most predictable league in the country. Four years in a row, we watched Lebron battle a west coast superteam and honestly, it was pretty boring. The only reason I watched any of those games was to spend some quality time with my friends or family. 

And I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. In the United States, the final series of the Cavaliers vs. the Warriors broke a record for the least-watched culmination of any major American sports league, edging out the MLB and the NHL, which both featured a game seven in their final series.

On top of the league’s predictability, it the most individual-driven league. One player can win the championship on their own accord, as we saw Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard demonstrate in 2016 and 2019, respectively. ESPN’s promotion deal with the association likewise zeroes in on individual players and less on their teams in advertisements. 

The network also continues to give players a voice on topics outside their wheelhouses, making the players sound less intelligent by the syllable. Even Lebron James, who’s usually pretty well-spoken, recently made a dangerous comment on foreign politics in an interview, knowing not what threat he brought upon himself or the league. I don’t believe that any athlete should be interviewed on the basis of politics, or on any basis not pertaining to the sport viewers came to watch. Situations like this that can hurt the individual and the league as a whole.

Globally, it seems that most viewers enjoy watching one player score but never pass. Personally, I’m a big fan of passing and assisting, while the NBA is unequivocally a scoring league. No longer are the days of Jason Williams, Pete Maravich, Magic Johnson or Steve Nash in vogue, so no longer are the days of me watching the NBA. 

So again I must ask: why is the NBA so popular? 

It’s not as entertaining as college basketball, it’s too predictable, advertisements and interviews take away from the basketball of it all and there’s minimal team cooperation. So why do viewers keep coming back? I wish I had an answer for you.