No league comes close.
The NBA, when it comes to selling their sport, is simply the best.
When announced Tuesday that the popular street game H-O-R-S-E will now be played by professionals, the internet went buzzing.
It is incredible that the NBA can continually churn out great idea after another. Whether they are the "Where ____ Happens" or "There Can Only Be One" commercials, they always continue to surprise and delight.
Selling their stars has worked magic for them. Who wouldn't want to see Kobe and Shaq side-by-side showing the same desire? To relive the friendship of Dirk and Nash?
And it's not just Kobe scoring 81 points that they sell. The NBA showcases Nash's deformed, bloody nose, and Big Ben's 'fro in their inventive commercials.
The NBA even allows themselves a bit of fun, something of which the NFL should take note. The Barkley-Bavetta race at the 2007 All-Star Game only lasted 23 seconds, but I laughed and enjoyed it. So what if it was silly? The NBA knew what I would tune in for.
It doesn't hurt that the players have given back to the game as well. When a dress code was first instated, many people were apprehensive that it would go over well. However, the players embraced the dress code rather than try to defy the rule.
The players have also been the first group of athletes to really try to connect with fans online. Gilbert Arenas' blog, Chris Bosh's campaign for the All-Star game, and Baron Davis and Steve Nash's "Step Brothers" parody on YouTube have all been tremendously popular.
Meanwhile, the NFL is shipping games overseas to London, angering some players and fans. Troy Polamalu indirectly called out Goodell when he claimed the NFL was turning into a pansy league.
Comparing the two leagues yields quite a difference between the two. Football clamps down so tightly around their athletes, Wes Welker can't even make a snow angel without being fined $10,000.
"It was a spur-of-the-moment deal, and you can be sure that it won't happen again," apologized Welker. Good thing he said sorry, because we can't let our children see we tolerate that kind of behavior.
In the words of Sir Charles, "that's just turrible."
The only other new idea that generated the excitement the NBA has surrounded itself with has been the NHL's Winter Classic.
Fact is, the NBA seems to be the only one trying to reach out to fans. The NFL takes games and ships them onto their exclusive NFL Network, MLB cowers behind steroids, and the NHL shuffles teams to different cities every other week.
I never enjoyed watching basketball as much after Jordan left my Chicago Bulls. But the NBA has sold me that there is in fact life after Jordan.
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