We're just not that into you.
Perhaps it's a by-product of the technology age where you have a million different distractions fighting for your attention; games, internet, twitter, facebook, guitar hero. Or is it simply a league in decline? Either way the NBA is experiencing an erosion of it's core fan base. Will it return? Is it the game, the league or the fans?
It's been a long time since the NBA's dominance. When Jordan ruled the league and the league ruled all of sports. Can anyone remember one name so dominant? Then came Bird, Magic, Barkley, Malone, Payton. Suddenly we woke up to a league that was alive and flourishing with talent motivated by their competitive spirit; motivated to win titles, not endorsement contracts and Old Spice commercials. Success allowed that to happen, but it was that win-first mentality that drove it, not the other way around.
The influx of endless tv money drove the league to new heights. It was a new threshold for sports. Maybe even the pinnacle.
You can argue we have Kobe vs. LaBron, but it's not the same. Not even close. Great players, for sure, but not rivals. I cannot even think of a great NBA rivalry anymore. Sure, the propoganda machine will be in full force this season trying to hype it up, but it'll ring hollow for most of us.
With the Sonics gone I have no appetite for the NBA. I live in L.A where it'd be easy to jump on the Laker bandwagon, but that idea is laughable. I will never be a Laker fan. Too many bad memories of Lakers-over-the-Sonics highlight (or lowlights) for that to happen. I respect the hell out of the organization because they are constant champions, but I am a Sonic fan at heart, and they are gone.
I thought this apathy was driven from bitterness of the loss of the Sonics, but I was wrong. It goes deeper, and it's not just me. I've discussed the NBA with several friends as the season approaches and they echo my sentiment. "I'm just not that into it anymore" was what they were telling me. These are fans with childhood teams (Houston, Phoenix, Portland) and a long history of support. The luster is gone and the game is boring. Before this season starts we know the Lakers will likely repeat and the top story all season will be King James rumors about his imminent move to New York.
I also plan to stoke the fires with the imminent move of the NBA OUT of OKC, which I fully expect to happen within five years. I also expect the folding or outright relocation of teams. This league has too many and not all will survive the recession. The natural balance will be achieved. Does Memphis really need a team? What about Charlotte and OKC? They survive because of NBA revenue sharing and other welfare programs that merely stave off the obvious: too many teams, too few real men playing the game because they love it, and not enough appetite for either of them. Apathy is spreading throughout this league's fanbase.
Sorry NBA, we're just not that into you.
P.S. I am now seeing NCAA Football pretty seriously, so stop calling me.