The World Loves Basketball… Hopefully

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So loyalty isn’t dead. It’s still there, in its own way. Last week I wrote that I would want Lebron James to leave. Not only because it would make the NBA infinitely more exciting, but because he should go wherever he feels he would have the most value. To my discredit, I didn’t give Cleveland enough credit. I didn’t actually think Lebron would leave Miami– it would just be too good. Well here we are and it is just too good. This changes everything. The East may be nowhere near the West but they creep closer with every trade. Miami will inevitably still be something, granted not what they were, yet something. Chicago, with Derrick Rose keeping all his limbs intact, is a decent team even without Melo. Charlotte could make some interesting moves this summer to become a halfway contender. These plays are not only huge for the Eastern Conference but for the NBA- anyone who likes sports even a bit must be excited. Lebron’s move immediately adds more viewers and more money to the NBA– he’s that important. With the league gaining popularity, it’s already been determined that our league is taking over the MLB as the second most important in America. But, in the midst of leaving my studies in Argentina during the World Cup and seeing a worldwide obsession with soccer that simply does not exist in America, I was surprised to see a decent basketball following on the world stage.

I was surprised to find that the NBA is not only gaining popularity in the US, but around the world. Argentineans love basketball. It can’t hurt that their beloved Manu Ginobli (hailing from Bahía Blanca and an avid participant in their national team) just won the championship with the Spurs. Yet, everytime someone saw the Michael Jordan sticker on my laptop at university, they had to comment on it. Did you see Blake Griffin’s dunk in the game last night? San Antonio will win right?—They have to with Manu! Basketball is slowly creeping its way into hearts worldwide. You have to thank the NBA for their tremendous international programs, especially in China. They are doing a wonderful job of creating an international conversation about the sport I love.

So what do Lebron James and my time living in Argentina have to do with each other? Well I can tell you for sure that basketball is nowhere near and will not anytime soon have the presence that soccer does– but I do think it’s getting near to second. Lebron James’s new ‘Decision’ generates more interest, more dollars, and in the long run more popularity for the sport, hopefully cementing it as the silver medalist- the second most popular sport in the world. This season of the NBA is bound to be one for the books, a ridiculous amount of good teams, and it all comes back to the King. He shook it up, added a new level of excitement to a league that was already riveting. People care about this sport around all parts of the world and the increasing number of international players can’t hurt. If Embiid becomes a star, you can’t help but assume Cameroon will rally behind him and his league. Even in a country where hockey reigns supreme, Wiggins playing with Lebron will have to generate more interest in Canada. I hope in the years to come I will look back at this article and laugh that basketball’s international popularity as sport’s silver medalist was even a question. But today, thank you Lebron James for making your own classy move, and inadvertently helping give basketball another leg up. We’re all waiting– Is it November yet?