It's no secret that the NBA is not all that popular anymore in America. It ranks, at best, third in order of professional organizations behind the NFL and MLB. Since Michael Jordan's exit in the '90s, everything has went downhill for the NBA in terms of fan interest.
That being said, the NBA has a huge crossroads Monday. Following a crucial 11th-hour meeting Sunday between the player reps and the owners, the two decided on a meeting for Monday. Commissioner David Stern has set Monday as the deadline for the outline of a deal to be in place or he'll cancel the first two weeks of the regular season. That would cripple the NBA for possibly decades to come.
Right now, the NBA is at its highest level of interest by fans in many years. There's so much for fans to be excited about. The NBA Finals the last two years have two of the highest rated Finals in the last 10 years. First, you have the renewed rivalry of the Celtics-Lakers, finishing off in an epic Game 7. You follow that up with the Heat saga taking on Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the Dallas crew of veterans looking for the elusive ring.
On top of that, the NBA is ripe with young talent, possibly more than it's ever had. Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, among numerous others, are the future of the NBA and are entering their prime in the near future. The Oklahoma City Thunder have inched closer and closer to a title, and Durant is only becoming more of a superstar. With him wreaking havoc on summer leagues and small gyms around America this offseason, he may be the biggest star in the game.
Plus you have a crop of superstars in their prime: Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh. The Miami Heat have captivated most of America—more for the united hatred of the trio, but captivated nonetheless. New York hasn't been this excited about basketball since the days of Patrick Ewing.
And that's not to leave out all those aging veterans not ready to let go of the reins as NBA's best: Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash. Bryant has had a new procedure on his knee that appears to have given him the hops and bounce of his younger days. Allen, Pierce and KG are hoping for one last run at a title. Nowitzki has a title to defend with Kidd, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler, and Nash has only a couple more years to get his first ring that he deserves.
And I haven't even mentioned budding stars like Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Danny Granger or Rudy Gay. All these guys have a legitimate claim at being some of the best in the league at their respective positions. All are exciting in their own right, including the new Human Highlight Reel, Blake Griffin.
That brings me back to the importance of Monday. Everything the NBA has going for it can be ruined in just one day. If the NBA can't come to terms on an agreement Monday, it loses all the momentum it's acquired the past five years. And that would kill the NBA. It might be a shot it could never fully recover from.
It will lose all the interest of the fans you gained during the playoffs last year and would have a very small group of new fans for this coming year. Nothing good can come from not getting an agreement settled upon Monday. If it means both sides not getting exactly what they want in order to have a season, then so be it, but a season has to happen.
So David Stern, Derek Fisher, player reps and owners, if you're reading this, you have a great opportunity in front of you. Don't mess it up.