It is a topic that has been debated numerous times over the past few years: is the NBA ready to claim the spot of most popular sport in the United States?
The easy answer is simple: No, no it is not.
However, that does not mean that the NBA is not closer to closing that gap. This week alone proved just how close the NBA is getting to the top spot.
The NFL is a huge entertainment company, one of the biggest in the world. The league essentially owns a day of the week during the fall. And not just any day either: they own Sunday. That is a day that is typically spent at church and with family.
The NFL has such a strong hold that people are willing to skip church services just to watch their favorite teams compete. Some churches even go as far as playing games DURING services so not to miss any of the action.
So what has the NBA done that could possibly affect the NFL especially during this of all weeks, Super Bowl Week? This is the biggest time of the year for the NFL.
A week that is so big each year people campaign to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday (Side note it 100% should be a national holiday).
So what exactly did the NBA do? It simply dominated the news cycle. The NBA is all anyone has been talking about leading up to the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots playing in Super Bowl LIII.
Why is that a big deal?
Because the news and talk around the NBA was not about what was happening on the court, but about the possibilities of what might happen off it.
The New York Knicks traded forward Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks last week. Porzingis, who is currently recovering from a torn ACL, was a clear center piece for the Knicks.
He was the biggest bright spot the Knicks have had in nearly two decades. Drafted fourth overall in 2015, Kristaps has the potential to be an all-time great player in the NBA. He’s a 7-footer who can shoot from three and has the ball handling skills of a guard.
Porzingis is such a unique talent that Kevin Durant named him the Unicorn for just how rare players of his size and skill are.
The Knicks made what could end up being one of the boldest moves in sports history: The team traded a franchise player in an effort to have more money to sign free agents in July.
The Knicks are hoping they can sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving this summer with the extra money they accumulated in the trade for Porzingis.
Of course, Irving took a step back on comments he made this past summer when he told Boston Celtics season tickets holders he planned on re-signing with Celtics.
Irving was quoted last week as saying, “I don’t owe anyone s–t.”
That, along with all the drama surrounding what team Anthony Davis will be playing for possibly in the next week or next year, all made for a dominating news cycle.
Fans of the NFL have been turning their TV’s off for a multitude of reasons in the past couple years. Whether it is over rule changes, style of play, player protests, domestic violence, police brutality or even fans dislike of commissioner Roger Goodell himself, some fans have made the decision to turn the tv off.
Despite having far less experience being a commissioner, most would argue that the NBA’s Adam Silver has done a far better job of doing what is right for both the league and its players more so than Goodell in the NFL.
The NFL is also still trying to connect with the younger generation in the same way the NBA does. There has been a huge decline in youth football participation over the past couple years with parents fearing how the game may affect their children’s health.
So what have kids and their parents turned to?
Young fans are drawn to NBA thanks in large part to its recognizable faces, marketing and use of social media, which is something the NFL has not been able to keep pace with.
To give an example, the NBA 2K series is now one of the best-selling video games every year among young kids and teens. According to Forbes, in 2017 the only video game series to sell more copies than NBA 2K18 was Call of Duty: WWII. Madden NFL 18 came in at fourth on the list.
The NBA still has a very long way to go before they can claim the NFL’s crown as their own. But Adam Silver and the NBA are inching their way closer and closer to that top spot.
If Goodell and the NFL owners do not make some immediate changes in the next few years they could see themselves looking back as the NBA passes them by.