Is the Nba Still Thrilling to Its Fans?

By: Matthew Paolini

With a hip slogan that passionately states, "I Love This Game!" the National Basketball Association (NBA) has a very high standard to meet. While the league apparently presumes its fans' eternal affection for the game, a valid question remains is the league as well-liked as in previous years?

The league attendance statistics answer positively. By most measures, the 2005-06 season was a huge success. The league ended the season with the loftiest average attendance in history and the best total attendance, surpassing the previous records from 2004-05. The average attendance of 17,558 fans per game surpassed the 2004-05 record of 17,314 fans per game, and the 1995-96 average of 17,252. The new total attendance record of 21,595,804 eclipsed the previous record of 21,296,497 established in 2004-05, and the 1995-96 total of 20,513,218 fans going to regular season games. Overall, NBA stadiums were filled to 91.4 percent capacity.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, when asked about the league's accretion in popularity said: "Our attendance record demonstrates the extraordinary connection that exists between players and fans, and we are thankful for our fans continued support and passion for the game."

Rated as the most authoritative commissioner of any major American sport, Stern garnered the #1 spot on the 2006 Sporting News "The Power 100" survey.

The game of basketball has tremendously increased in popularity around the globe in the last 20 years. The league now has 11 offices in locations outside the United States, and during the 2005-06 season distributed programming to 215 countries and territories in 43 languages, according to their official Web site. League games presently reach 3.1 billion viewers worldwide, and merchandise is sold in more than 100 countries on six continents. China is the NBA's second-largest market after the U.S.

Reflecting the global aspect of the sport, opening night team rosters for the 2006-07 season featured a league history best 83 international players from 37 countries and territories, marginally surpassing last season's 82. Twenty-eight of the 30 teams feature at least one international player. With a total league roster of 440, international players account for a full 19 percent.

So, it looks like that the NBA is headed in the right direction as the league continues to gain more fans around the world, drawing young would-be ballplayers from all corners of the planet. One would hardly be faulted for predicting that the number of foreign-born players will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Along with more players from different locales will naturally come more national interest from the people in those places.

In answer to the question posed in the title, as it turns out a large number of fans all around the world would indeed say, "I love this game!"

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