Is the NBA Finally Over Michael Jordan?
Only a year or two ago, everyone was trying to decide whether or not LeBron James or Kobe Bryant was the next Michael Jeffrey Jordan. It was a sign of the fact that the NBA didn’t know what was going to happen without their icon for so many years. Now, things are finally picking up in The
Association and I think we have finally moved past just trying to find the next Michael Jordan.
I think much of this change has to do with the fact that young players are now required to spend at least one year in school before jumping to the NBA. I understand that there was a lot of excitement concerning high school players before that, but now there is just as much excitement surrounding
young players in college. Plus, because those players are in college it is now easier to see them play and get more information about them. I think that benefits both the NCAA and the NBA.
Now suddenly NBA fans aren’t searching the internet for the next big player to come out of high school and trying to find all the silly highlight videos they can. Instead, they are following the college basketball season and watching the blood drip down their ears as Dick Vitale screams at them about all of the "diaper dandie’s" around college this season. Then NBA fans follow these college players as they make the jump to the NBA and try to find out whether or not they’ll end up as flops or solid players.
The other good thing about the need for players to go to college is they discover they are either ready or not ready for the NBA before getting there. Players who were just hype in high school and get straight to the league will either flop or shine typically in their first year, but if they flop, they tend to just disappear. If those same players discover they aren’t ready but are in college instead, it gives them the opportunity to recover and actually gain some skills before making the jump. I think that makes for better players heading into the NBA.
So how does that translate into the NBA being able to forget about Michael Jordan? Better players are now making their way into the professional ranks and that makes for better teams. All of a sudden, younger teams like the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trailblazers are actually making names for themselves because they aren’t wasting valuable draft picks early on high school flops. Better players are advancing out of college, which makes for better teams. The NBA is getting back to being a team game and isn’t forced to just focus on their superstars.
When Michael Jordan was still playing basketball, the NBA felt their only marketing option was to get people interested in the best players. Now, with better players advancing out of school and draft picks becoming more valuable, the draft is able to change teams for the better and all of a
sudden create a little parity in the NBA.
Most people would argue that parity in the NFL is what makes it the strongest of all the professional sports leagues. I think the NBA is headed in that direction thanks in part to the requirement for players to spend a year in college. I think it is also that parity that has led to the fact that the NBA is finally over Michael Jordan. I understand he will always be thought of as possibly the greatest player ever, but I think the NBA is finally ready to move on and stop looking for the next Heir Apparent. And I think that couldn’t say better things for the league…