The Rise of the NBA


“Wade alley oop to Lebron, and he slams it home!” Captions like this have appeared in pictures on the popular social media site Instagram for the past decade. There are thousands of accounts that post sports highlights from leagues around the world and even spark discussions with fans about provocative topics. This exposure has burgeoned many economies in the world of sports and brought attention to previously neglected sports. A prime example is the way a popular account, House of Highlights, has put the NBA in the social media spotlight.


Attracting Foreigners

The NBA was in the public spotlight throughout the 90s, the decade included all time greats like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. However, the league’s popularity declined fairly rapidly after that. While great athletes continued to play, the NBA wasn’t anything special and couldn’t compete with other leagues like the MLB and NFL. The NBA attempted to increase its popularity and the talent level of its athletes by investing in countries overseas, but that only provided minimal help. Then, social media grew. Kids throughout Europe and Asia began to watch the sport of basketball online. They fell in love with basketball and players like Lebron James. Today there is an influx of young, foreign stars heading to the NBA. Players such as Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis, Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Serbia’s Nikola Jokic, and Slovenia’s Luka Doncic are all players under 25 years old who made the 2019 All Star Game because of their outstanding performances. The trend of incoming foreign athletes helps the league in many ways. Most importantly, it begins the endless loop of increased popularity and talent level.

The NBA has also grown domestically. Ratings have increased, merchandise sales have grown, and ticket prices have risen. The league’s increase in popularity is directly related to the growth of basketball related Instagram accounts. The NBA’s social media presence is greater than any other major American sports league by far. The hashtag “NBA” is used nearly as much as “NFL,” “MLB,” and “NHL” combined. This is due to the NBA’s relaxed enforcement of its copyright. The MLB, for example, does not allow third parties to upload and post highlights from baseball games. Unsurprisingly, the MLB has a small presence on social media platforms, and it is most likely because fans cannot watch videos of exciting moments unless it comes directly from the league. On the other hand, Instagram accounts like House of Highlights have exploded in popularity by posting videos of ankle breakers, huge dunks, and game winning shots.


The Art of Capturing Teens

It is no secret that the most formative years of a person’s life are when they are a young adult. Regardless of location, people are constantly communicating with their friends.

With nearly everyone having a phone today, circles of friends create group chats. Whether it be through a social media platform or through text messaging, it is extremely simple, quick, and easy to send video highlights to a large number of people. This is evident in the group message feature on Instagram that allows people to share videos with the touch of a button. Within a few clicks, a highlight goes viral, becoming the chatter of classrooms or offices around the world. Appealing to an audience that is already aware of your product, at least to an extent, is very hard. It is not the concept needing to be advertised, but new information that must catch an audience’s attention; an audience that previously did not fall for the product. Of course, younger audiences are more likely to be less aware of an idea, but they are also willing to expand their new horizons to discover something new to entertain them. According to the Pew Research Center, over 70% of Instagram users are teenagers aged 13-17, and generally, someone who falls in love with a sport will do so between those ages.

In the early days of sports highlight accounts, Instagram videos lasted a maximum of 15 seconds. More recently, the platform has allowed video to reach up to a minute in length. Short videos only highlight a specific moment. Obviously, the moments chosen to be included are significant. The aspect of short videos is perfect for a generation that has been stereotyped and criticized for their short attention spans. When referring to basketball, a significant moment is usually a crazy dunk or clutch shot, which is super exciting, especially to a young audience. Another moment occurring often that can be characterized as significant is one that is controversial. Controversy also grabs ones attention, once again, especially that of a younger person.

Instagram is designed perfectly to attract teens. Teens get hooked on a product, and the NBA found the way to profit off of them. Whether intentional or not, the NBA discovered that getting in front of teens’ eyes is the best way to grow a business. The seemingly random and unexpected growth of the NBA and the sport of basketball must be one of the most unpredictable trends of the last half century and all signs of growth point to the internet as the apparatus.


To Rise, Others Must Fall

The sports of baseball and football have failed Americans.

For years, baseball was referred to as “America’s favorite pastime;” however it is becoming increasingly unpopular to the masses. While Baseball fans will argue otherwise, the game of baseball has become too slow. With commercials after every half-inning and constant pitcher changes, there are times that play will only go on for only 10 pitches before fans have to sit through commercials. Furthermore, pitchers waste plenty of time between pitches; only doing so strategically rarely. The entire game runs at the pace of one man. Scoring in baseball is also decreasing, because pitchers are getting better and defenses are getting smarter. The ability of pitchers to control a baseball so perfectly is impressive. The ball soars 60 feet to pinpoint a location with a select movement, which the pitcher chooses situationally based on several factors. Continuing, pitchers and the fielders are adjusted according to tendencies of the player at bat. While this may be entertaining to some, it turns away many. The league went on to blame the players for its lack of popularity. The MLB hurt the game in extreme ways and still, so long after the decline began, has not taken responsibility for the terrible state of the sport.

America’s Game. The sport of football. The sport controlled by a league that acts more like a corrupt, government-sponsored corporation than a group of people who want to have fun and play a game is dying. The NFL has had itself caught up in dozens of controversies in the last decade alone. The league constantly finds itself directly in the middle of political and societal debates, and this has divided hardcore fans and pushed out casual followers of football. On top of that, the NFL has made themselves dominate in the American judiciary. They have won countless court cases in which the opposition has had evidence of no wrongdoing. This alone has cost the sports millions of fans, because the league used their power to punish players. Moreover, the NFL has done a horrific job of caring for concussions and mental health issues from the sport of football. This was portrayed in the film, “Concussion”, which crucifies the NFL for their neglect of players. To add to the controversy, the NFL threatened Sony with legal action, demanding they censor parts of the film that would negatively portray the league.

The league has also been drowning in their player’s drama for years, which again is a huge turnoff to fans who just want to watch the game of football. Instead of caring about issues, the NFL has implemented fake fixes, and in turn, hurt the game.

The two leagues that dominated the eyes of Americans for a century have fallen off their throne due to horrible management.

On the other hand, the NBA has done a fantastic job of managing the sport of basketball. The league has listened to fans before making major decisions. Unlike the MLB and NFL, the NBA stands by and protects its players rather than going after them. Also, the NBA has embraced the new wave of faster, more dynamic athletes. The previously mentioned leagues have not embraced new trends in order to keep the game more traditional, and naturally, the sports became more different than ever before. Basketball is in an amazing position right now because of the leagues perfect handling of modern basketball.



Overall the NBA has capitalized on the opportunities that have presented themselves. The league has recruited players internationally in order to improve the skill and talent level of basketball. Furthermore, the NBA has caught the eyes of millions of teenagers throughout the nation by creating a strong social media presence for themselves, and lastly, they have done a fantastic job of managing itself. Through all of these means, basketball has become dominant in the public eye. The judgment of those leading the NBA has been perfect, which has led to the huge growth of basketball and the birth of a dynasty.