We are in the middle of what will go down as the worst year in league history. Not from a style perspective, or lack of competition. Rather in a more unlucky or snake-bit sort of way. Over the past eight months, the following events have taken place:
– Kevin Durant tore his Achilles in the NBA Finals and was ruled out for the entire 2019-2020 season.
– Klay Thompson tore his ACL in the NBA Finals and was ruled out for the whole 2019-2020 season.
– In August, Demarcus Cousins tore his ACL and was ruled out for the entire 2019-2020 season.
– Right before the regular season started, Daryl Morey sparked an international controversy with China by tweeting support of the Hong Kong protests.
– Right before the season started, #1 draft pick Zion Williamson tore his meniscus and missed the first three months of the regular season.
– In October, Steph Curry broke his hand and has still not returned to playing.
– In December, it was reported that the television ratings were down.
– On January 1, long-time commissioner David Stern passed away at the age of 77.
– On January 26, the most inspirational player of all time and his daughter, who was likely going to the WNBA — Kobe and Gigi Bryant — died in a helicopter crash.
– On January 31, it was reported that the NBA Salary Cap would decrease slightly due to a loss of revenue thanks to the China/Morey controversy.
It is impossible to find a more disastrous stretch in league history. However, there are silver linings. In Kobe Bryant’s final, prophetic tweet, he told Lebron to “Continue to move the game forward.” That’s exactly what the NBA will do. Here is why:
The league is in good hands at this pivotal moment. Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo are generational talents with shoulders broad enough to carry the association. There has never been so much talent, and it just so happens to be really spread out across the country.
By the end of this decade, some of the players mentioned above will be retired. Luckily, there are already players in their early-20’s who are making an impact in the league. Most notably, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, and of course, Atlanta’s Trae Young.
With rule changes and season tweaks, the NBA will look radically different by the year 2030. It will be so exciting to see these young players grow and evolve with the league.
Nothing keeps an organization healthier than an influx of people from different backgrounds. The NBA will continue to grow because of its popularity with people outside of the United States.
On opening night of the 2019-2020 season, there were 108 international players from 38 countries and territories. Of those 108 players, 11 had already been named to an All-Star team.
Make no mistake; the NBA is enduring the worst 8-month stretch in league history. What’s more, there are serious obstacles it will need to overcome to sustain healthy growth. But as Kobe Bryant charged Lebron with the task of continuing to move the game forward, the basketball world has the people to do it. We are lucky to have one of those torchbearers right here in Atlanta.