NFL’s Shift vs. NBA’s Shift

In the mid-late 1990’s, in the NFL, you had several iconic players such as Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Jerome Bettis, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Randy Moss. Those were the main
names that came to mind if someone mentioned the NFL. The NBA had a few, but outside of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing, and Karl Malone, you tended to think more of teams such as the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, and Utah Jazz. Fast
forward to 2019. In the NFL, it feels as though we have shifted our focus away more from individual players (with the exception of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and the young upcoming Patrick Mahomes) and more to a spotlight of teams such as the New England Patriots, the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles (after winning their Super Bowl vs. New England), the L.A. Rams, Oakland Raiders, and so forth. Contrast that with the NBA who has more of a player-
centered feel with names such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, and Damian Lillard. We don’t tend to think of (for example) the less popular franchises Lillard, KD, and Kyrie are tied with, but we think of them
individually. Both the NFL and the NBA are team sports. However, if you take a microscope and examine both sports, you’ll see some distinctive differences in how the teams are operated.
Granted, basketball and football require different conditioning to maintain competition levels. However, I have detected a slight decline in NFL interest vs. NBA interest. This past season’s
Super Bowl between the Rams and the Patriots was a defensive performance that resulted in the fewest viewers in 11 years according to ratings figures from Nielsen, a research firm (98,000,000
viewers). I would be curious under which category these 98 million viewers fall. Is it the, “I have no vested interest in the game, I only watch it to have an excuse to have people over to eat and drink a ton during the game” logic? Or the, “I’m a huge fan of one of the teams represented and want to see the outcome” reasoning? If you and I were brutally honest, most every year, those
are the typical reasonings for most fans to watch the Super Bowl. The NBA Finals numbers were down this year due to LeBron James’ hiatus from the playoffs. However, the Toronto Raptors
representing the Eastern Conference, Canada set a record watching this year’s Finals with 7.4 million Canadians (essentially 20% of the country’s total population). Despite training camps
kicking off in the NFL and even the Oakland Raiders announcing they would be on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” NBA Free Agency has made the NFL take a backseat as the NBA world saw the
Golden State Warriors’ dynasty come to an end, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both moved to their 3rd team in 4 years, Anthony Davis teamed up with LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers along
with former Warriors’ Quinn Cook and DeMarcus Cousins. The biggest shake up of all was Kawhi Leonard signed with the L.A. Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder flipped Paul George to the Clippers to play alongside Kawhi. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski probably feels he’s been working overtime the past month finding out the latest information to Tweet out to everyone or give a breaking report on “SportsCenter.” NBA Summer League initially had the eyes of fans on the New Orleans Pelicans as their rookie phenom Zion Williamson arrived on the
scene. His time was cut short after a knee collision would keep him out the rest of the Summer League. Several have also been watching the 7’7 skyscraper known as Tako Fall. This has been the most active off-season the NBA has seen in years. Here it is July and just this past week we found out where Kawhi Leonard was signing. NBA commissioner Adam Silver knows what
drives ratings and money in this league. Granted, with the lack of a super team this season, the more casual fans, who seemingly were turned off by Golden State’s 5 year towering over the rest
of the league, will be more inclined to either watch via T.V. or internet or even better, pay to go watch several teams have a legitimate chance to win an NBA Title even perhaps their favorite team. The NBA’s 2019-2020 season already has a buzz to it and training camp has yet to begin. Frankly, despite being a loyal Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans fan for many years, I’m more excited about the NBA than the NFL. Maybe that’s an indictment on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inconsistency with player discipline, poor ability on choosing refs, or having
essentially a super team like the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl on an annual basis. Of the 32 NFL teams, at day’s end, there’s only about 3-4 that have a legitimate chance to
win the Super Bowl after New England. In the NBA, there seems to be 6-8 teams that could make it to the NBA Finals and win it all. Despite the NBA’s 82 game season vs. the NFL’s 16 game season, 16 games have more relevance when it comes to playoffs. However, this might be a year where you find your average fan flipping back and forth between an NFL game on CBS or Fox and an NBA regular season game over on ESPN, TNT, or NBA TV. It will be interesting to
compare ratings for both sports this season (not to mention revenue) when both seasons are completed.


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