Can LeBron James Save The NBA?

Bill DiFilippo@bflip33Contributor IIIAugust 29, 2009

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:  LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers takes part in a promotional event during a visit to China on August 24, 2009 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

As an Orlando Magic fan, you learn a lot of things about professional basketball. For one thing, neither Nick Anderson nor Dwight Howard can shoot free-throws in a clutch situation. For another, Stan Van Gundy has to be related to porn star Ron Jeremy somewhere down the line. But the number one thing I've learned, this league belongs to LeBron James.

For all the accolades Bron-Bron gets, I really don't think we as sports fans truly appreciate just how amazing this man is. He's so good, people expect Cleveland to run away with the NBA Title this year, even though the only big addition they made was for a 37 year-old reality tv star who can't defend the chair I'm sitting in. However, there is one thing LeBron has yet to do: save the NBA from its current slide.

Look, I'm not hating on the NBA, of all major sports leagues, it is far and away the one closest to my heart. What I am saying is nobody is watching basketball like they were when some guy named Michael was around. Since 1976, when the Nielsen Ratings started to average the number of viewers per game, the lowest rating was the 2007 San Antonio-Cleveland borefest, and of the top 10 lowest ratings in history, 6 have come since 2003.

Now, what has to happen for fans to be compelled again? I think LeBron planted that seed last year, by leaving the court and not speaking to the media after Orlando beat them in the Conference Finals. Now we have a legitimate rivalry between two of the top dogs in the conference for the first time since MJ-Reggie (Bron-Dwight). And LeBron-Kobe? The first huge East-West rivalry since MJ-Malone.

Are fans and the media placing too much pressure on LeBron, a guy who won his first MVP award last year? Probably. But if we've learned anything about LeBron, it's that no athlete has been as willing to fix flaws in his game to become the best since.....Michael Jordan.