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Top 10 Facts on the 2012 NBA

Bryan Johnson

On June 6, 1946, the National Basketball Association was founded in New York. Since that time the organization has expanded to become one of the biggest in the world. The NBA player is currently the highest paid sportsmen in the world when you look at average salary. The league is built around a collection of superstars who greatly impact play. Unlike most sport leagues, a single individual in the NBA can dominate and control a basketball game.

This is clearly evident when you look at the small number of franchises in the NBA that have won a Championship. Since 1980, the league has been dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, and San Antonio Spurs. This is awesome if you live in one of those areas, but fans in other NBA cities have been struggling. Here are ten facts about the NBA during the 2012 playoffs.

10

High TV Ratings

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Since 2007, the NBA television ratings have surpassed most large organized sports. This is due to the fact that the league’s recognized teams have made it to the NBA Finals, notably the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Boston Celtics. In 2010, the NBA recorded its most watched game of the last ten years when the Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7 of the Finals. The most watched game in the history of the NBA occurred in 1998 when 72 million people watch the Chicago Bulls defeat the Utah Jazz.

In 2012, the Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics series notched high ratings and recorded a number that was up 39% from 2011. Some of the popularity has been attributed to the NBA presence on the Internet and in social networking websites. Despite the success, the Deputy Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver said the league would lose money in 2012. This is largely due to the fact that while the attendance for the top ten NBA teams remains solid, the bottom of the pack has suffered. Among this group are the Rockets, Nets, and Pistons, who had bad seasons in 2012. The most successful NBA teams are located in the biggest U.S. metropolitan areas, so playoff ratings have been representative of the competition.


9

Race and Ethnicity

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There is no doubt that the overall ethnicity of the NBA is predominantly populated with African American players. The percentage of Caucasian athletes in the NBA has been diminishing over the last twenty years. This is largely because children from different areas of the U.S. tend to focus on specific sports. Also, it is no secret that African American athletes generally excel in quickness and leaping ability, which are extremely important in the NBA. With the emergence of African American players in the 1960s, the NBA started to be played above the rim, which is more exciting.

Statistics show that in 2011 the NBA was 78% African American, 17% Caucasian, 4% Latino, and 1% Asian. When you examine the statistics of players who actually saw minutes in NBA games you find a large amount of Caucasian bench warmers. The story of ethnicity in basketball reached a height in 2012 with the emergence of Jeremy Lin. Lin spawned one of the largest sports stories of the year and is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history. He is the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the league.

8

Youth Influence

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The NBA is extremely popular among the youth of America. In May of 2012 the NBA became the first sports league in the world to reach over 5 million followers on Twitter. The league is constantly advertising on Twitter and Facebook. The social networking presence has given the NBA an advantage over other sports organizations. The league is great at keeping fans in the loop and letting people interact with each other on the Internet. It is a smart move by the NBA and has provided the league with valuable feedback. The online presence has helped to improve the NBAs overall ratings.

During NBA games, fans use Twitter to voice their opinion. The website was used to vote for this year’s Slam Dunk Contest winner, and in March the league began selling t-shirts that feature star players’ Twitter handles. More than 350 current and former NBA players are on Twitter and the league claims more than 260 million combined Facebook likes and Twitter follows. Before the 2012 NBA playoffs, NBA executives launched a collection of new promotions through Twitter. The organization also uses their social networking presence to promote clothes and shoes, which has started to impact social trends.

7

Flopping

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In 2012, NBA commissioner David Stern announced that he would be looking into the problem of flopping in the NBA. Flopping is the art of falling down on purpose in order to make the referees believe you were fouled. The technique has been used in Association football for over 150 years. It can be a good move in some situations, but most flopping is viewed as detrimental to the sport. Flopping is difficult to identify, so it makes the official’s job more difficult. Also, when fans watch the replay on television it is easy to determine if the player was faking.

Stern is currently looking into ways to deter players from flopping, including the possibly of video review. Fans of the game have balked at this idea because review already slows the progress of NBA games considerably. The issue of flopping is important because players in the NBA can be eliminated from the game due to fouls, so every foul is extremely important. In many cases it is the strategy of the opposing team to get the other team’s best player in foul trouble. Former NBA star Vlade Divac is currently regarded as the “father of flopping.”

In other NBA news, David Stern has recently said that the league is only committed to sending the United States top basketball players to the Olympics through London. After 2012, it appears that the American basketball squad will be made up players that are 23-years-old and under. When asked why this would be Stern said: “It’s the 20th anniversary of Barcelona, where the only Dream Team that I ever celebrated played.” David Stern also announced that he would like to end the defensive basket interference call in the NBA. If done, the rule change would greatly impact play around the rim.

6

Gambling Controversy

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In 2007, NBA referee Tim Donaghy was convicted on two federal conspiracy charges to fix basketball games. He was sentenced to 15 months in jail and served 11 months. Donaghy worked a total of 772 regular season and 20 playoff games as an NBA referee. In 2007, he was arrested after the FBI became interested in some bizarre statistical anomalies in games that Donaghy was involved with. Tim Donaghy fixed many games, but we are going to focus on the 3rd game of the 2007 series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns. The contest is considered to be one of the most poorly called games in history. The referees were Greg Willard, Tim Donaghy, and Eddie F. Rush.

On April 29th, 2012, a first round playoff game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies was played, in the game the Clippers made a huge comeback and erased a 24-point deficit in the final quarter to shock the Grizzlies. Like many NBA games, the referees received bad feedback after the contest, but nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, except the fact that one of the officials was Greg Willard from the 2007 Tim Donaghy game.

The story was nothing more than a coincidence until it was discovered that boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. had placed a $1.8 million dollar bet on the Clippers who were a six point underdog in the game. It was then discovered that Greg Willard was seen at two of Mayweather’s training sessions before his fight against Miguel Cotto. The relationship between Mayweather and Willard has sparked some questions about the possibility of another NBA betting scandal.


5

Steroids

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The NBA adopted the first anti-drug policy in major professional sports on September 28, 1983. Under the current program, all players are subject to random testing for banned substances during the pre-season and all players are subject to testing for reasonable causes at any time. Steroids were added to the list of banned substances in 1999 and a handful of players have been suspended for abusing the substance, including Rashard Lewis, O.J. Mayo, and Darius Miles.

Despite the policy, many people feel the NBA is experiencing a steroid abuse problem and that some star players are abusing the drug. In 2011, the issue of steroid abuse in the NBA was called a huge problem by Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose. He is quoted: “It’s huge and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person.”
The three players in the NBA that are most often talked about in regard to steroid abuse include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Dwight Howard. All comments are speculative, but James and Howard have been discussed because of their body proportions. Each man has an enormous shoulder span and body size in comparison to their small head, which is often a sign of drug abuse. The sure size of Dwight Howard in 2012 is much larger than in his early career. In 2011, a podcast surfaced on the Internet in which Kevin Durant put down the use of steroids. In 2012, boxing champ Floyd Mayweather, Jr. drew headlines when he accused Jeremy Lin of steroid abuse.

4

Fundamentals Have Changed

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The NBA is not a good example of fundamental basketball. The league has changed over the last twenty years from a defensive minded game to high scoring matchups. The quick play makes for exciting television, but in some cases the art of defense is poorly represented. One of the most glaring changes is individual play. The NBA has evolved into a showcase for certain players, who will always take important shots under pressure situations. The strategy of the game has been lost to one-on-one play.

The NBA has accepted the new style and adopted a collection of rules to deter physical play. The most important being the ban of hand checking, which makes it more difficult for defensive players to stay in front of their opponent. Some feel that the strict defensive rules has given NBA players a passive stance, as they are often seen complaining for a call with little or no contact. In today’s game, more fouls are called and much more time is spent at the free throw line than in other competitive leagues. This has forced some to call the upcoming class of American superstars soft and flashy in comparison to their European counterparts.

3

Incredible Athletic Ability

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The players of the NBA display some incredible athletic ability. They are among the most coordinated people in the world and are extremely talented jumpers. The record for a vertical jump was recorded by a professional dunker named Kadour Ziani at 61 inches (155 cm). At 5’10 Ziani is the only person to ever do a double windmill slam dunk. In the NBA, the top jumpers hold a vertical of around 44 inches. The slam dunk is also one of the most exciting plays in sports. There is nothing quite like an acrobatic dunk in the face of an opponent.

Another great thing about watching NBA games is the fast paced play. The action makes for a great live show. It is extremely fun to go visit the arena and witness the incredible strength, power, and length of the NBA players. The players are extremely explosive and emotional. It is great to watch a pure shooter perform at the top level. Basketball is also a streaky game, which makes it competitive and in some cases unpredictable.

2

ESPN Coverage

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If you are a fan of SportsCenter and the ESPN network of television channels then you are all too familiar with the show’s repetitive nature. ESPN can’t be blamed for showing rerun episodes, but the content of SportsCenter is often examining the same stories day after day. ESPN has a certain agenda and they love to make controversy. The network likes to focus on two major sports, the NFL and the NBA. During the NBA playoffs, ESPN devotes countless hours to examining every angle of the games. This is great if you want to hear people rant about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the NBA referees, but the information can quickly get repetitive.

ESPN has turned itself into a catalyst for some media stories with little importance, such as the play of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. You might wonder why so much attention is paid to the NBA on ESPN? One reason is that ESPN and its affiliate ABC hold the majority of the NBA broadcast contracts and the games are played on those channels. It is good business to promote the sports that you cover. When the NCAA basketball tournament comes around in March, the games are hardly mentioned on ESPN because the company doesn’t hold any rights to the broadcast.

1

The Refs Control the Game

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For starters, it feels like a disproportionate number of NBA referees are really old. Unlike any other sport, officials in the NBA are constantly blamed by the media for making bad calls and controlling the game. Players and coaches in the NBA have been known to get upset at the officials for inconsistent work. Some people feel NBA games are called differently during the playoffs, with the ultimate goal being to extend a series. In the NBA, it often appears that games are pushed to a close matchup and the work of the officials is amateur on each end of the court.

Basketball is a unique sport in that the refs have a large influence over the series. The game is fast-paced and it can be difficult for officials to determine the separation between a charge and a block. For this reason, it is important for basketball refs to be patient and make sure contact is made before blowing the whistle. This technique is basic, but often lost to some NBA refs who are seen anticipating contact over and over. At least once every playoff series, a player in the NBA will make a public comment about the officials favoring one side during a contest. Another way NBA referees control the game is through the distribution of fouls to star players.