The NBA is Broken. Here Are 7 Sports You Should Watch Instead in 2018-2019

Bullingan Team

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Reading Time: 11 minutes
Reading Time: 11 minutes

 

The Golden States Warriors (GSW) ,a team which won a record breaking 73 regular season games out of a possible total of 82,  then went on to add a top 3 talent in Kevin Durant, has just gotten even stronger: It has just signed  Demarcus Cousins, an all-star, and perhaps the most talented center in the game today.

To put this into perspective: this team will now boast two regular season MVP’s in their primes, a two-time defensive player of the year, a sixth-man of the year coming off the bench , and a starting line-up made up of five all-stars . This is a collection of talent unheard of in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors could legitimately be considered the most talented and arguably the best basketball team ever assembled.

To be sure, the lack of competition in the modern NBA is not entirely Golden State’s fault. The franchise is simply benefiting from an accumulation of very savvy moves on the part of its front office,  poor decision making on the part of other teams front office, and quite a fair amount of luck.

Furthermore, even as stacked with talent as the Golden State Warriors are they are by no means invincible. The Golden State Warriors pre- Demarcus Cousins were led 3-1 by the Houston rockets of 2017-2018 MVP James Harden and Chris Paul , and arguably would have lost , if Chris Paul had not gone down with a hamstring injury which sidelined him for the rest of the series.  Demarcus Cousins , is not expected back until late next year in the season , and even then there is no guarantee that he will necessarily be the same player he was before the injury. Torn Achilles happen to be the most difficult injury to recover from in basketball. And the injury gods are fickle. So all this taken into account, someone may have a long-shot at beating the Golden State Warriors. Just don’t bet on it.

At any rate the league has become a lot less exciting , and the inevitability of GSW’s fourth title in five years makes watching the next NBA season (82 regular season games plus the playoffs) seem like an uninteresting slog.

So, for the viewer who is in need of a sport where the stakes are still high, here is a list of seven other sports you should seriously consider watching instead of watching the NBA.

 

  1. The Premier league

There is a reason why football is the most viewed sport in the world. The Premier League is not just the top league in Europe in terms of attendance ,it is also the fourth biggest sports league in the world in terms of revenue just behind the three american behemoths that are the NFL , the MLB and the NBA. The Premier League is also one of the most exciting football leagues consistently ranking among the highest with 2.86 goals per game.

The 2017-18 Premier League season was action-packed season and though Man city won comfortably, the battle for the 4 Champions League spot continued until the final day of the season. All the signs seem to point to a very competitive race next season with Liverpool and Arsenal overhauling their squads thanks to transfer buys and Chelsea hiring a new coach. The battle for the Premier League crown will be fierce and so will the battle for the top four, synonymous with Champions League football. Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea , Liverpool , Manchester United , Tottenham will all challenge for those four slots in what is sure to be an entertaining season.

Advertisers have taken note. Competition has been fierce to acquire the broadcasting rights to the Premier League games. Sky recently shelled out a whopping £5.3 Billion  for 126 premier league fixtures every year during the 2016/2017 to 2018/2019 seasons.

The Premier League is also getting better. This year there five English clubs reached the quarter finals of the Champions League, a sign that the Premier League is ascendant. Additionally, with a steady inflow of world class coaching talent and world class players by teams flush with advertising revenue, the League is once more relevant and exciting. The thought of seeing Mourihno, Pep Guardiola , Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri dueling their wits day in day out is an exciting prospect and will only enhance the clubs they teach’s continental success.

The Premier League is also popular because of its personalities. This is a league which has seen such footballing icons such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Robbie Keane, Eric Cantona, start and end their careers. It was also the league where Cristiano Ronaldo honed his craft. Today , electric personalities such as Bernard Mendy, widely considered the king of social Media , Paul ‘Agent P’ Pogba and Jurgen ‘the Klop’ Klopp, to fill in the void. Oh and let’s not forget Mo Salah, whose prowess on the pitch (as the highest goal scorer in europe, and highest scorer in a single 38-game Premier League season ever) and whose humility and big heart off the pitch (see here and here) have made him one of the most popular footballers in the world and a legend in his home country.

In the Premier League there will never be a dull game. All season long you will get to watch the top six teams fighting for Champions League football, and as the season wear’s on every game will become a nail-biter with the bottom teams fighting off relegation. Not to mention the league which is mostly immune to some of the complaints usually associated with football ( players prone to diving, unexciting games,)

How competitive is Premier League football? Extremely competitive. And though , people might complain about the  endless funds of Manchester city , Chelsea and Manchester United,  there is no better place to see that money does not guarantee victory than the Premier League . Nothing better symbolises this than the incredible title run of Leicester City , a Cinderella story which epitomised the unexpected nature of Premier League football. Leicester City , a team from a city of 445, 000 people, with a wage bill of £57 million (about a quarter of a club such as Manchester United’s) beat out clubs such as Tottenham , Liverpool and even the mighty Manchester City which had about 8 times its wage bill . To put that into perspective that would be the equivalent of the New Orlean Pelicans or the Memphis Grizzlies or the Charlotte Hornets winning the NBA championship next year.

The Draw: starts early( august), exciting chase for top four places by big six teams, a lot of goals. Mo Salah.

Fixtures for the 2018-2019 season:  Arsenal Vs Tottenham (highest scoring derby in the Premier League) 1/12/18 and 2/3/19. Liverpool Vs Manchester United (most watched game in the world) 15/12/18 and  23/2/19

Where to watch:  Supersports, ESPN , Canal +,

Competition rating:  9/10

 

  1. Champions League Football

Also football , the Champions League is widely considered one of the greatest prizes in football, second only to the World Cup. Played from September to June every year, it pits the best teams in European top-flight against each other in group phases with the top two teams from each group moving onto the knock out rounds.

Think of it like the NBA playoffs but with less games, more excitement and more competition.

Over the  years the Champions League has given us incredible fixtures: from the incredible 2005 final where Liverpool came back from being 3-0 down at half time to win on penalties; The ‘Remontada’ in 2017, with Barcelona beating Paris Saint Germain 6- 1 at the Camp Nou to qualify for the semi-finals after having lost 4-0 in the first leg; Bale’s sublime bicycle kick goal ,considered by many perhaps the greatest goal ever; The ‘Romatada’ in which Roma beat Barcelona 3-0 after having lost the first game 4-1 at the Camp Nou.

The Champions League format is somewhat similar to the ‘playoff series’  NBA fans will be familiar with, although only in that vague way that tigers resemble cats: it has all the positives of the Playoffs, while eliminating most of the negatives. The Champions League is how tournaments should be done. None of the arbitrary west and east splitting which due to the weakness of the East makes the eastern bracket thoroughly dull. None of the unnecessarily drawn-out  best-of-seven series which whittle down excitement. The best-of-two games format of the Champions League, with home and away games, where away goals count for more, ensure that there is a fair amount of strategy and tactical acumen required from the teams that ultimately go through. Less is definitely more.

The Draw:  Chance to see the greatest teams and world’s best players battling it out on European football ‘s biggest stage. Propensity lately for teams to blow significant first leg goal advantages.

Fixtures for the 2018-2019 season:  The group stages in September, final June 2019.

Where to watch:  Supersports, ESPN , Canal +,

Competition rating:  7/10, the bigger teams do tend to come out on top in the end.

 

 

  1. Formula 1

 

352.3 million unique viewers tuned their TV sets into F1 programming at least once in 2017 and it has been considered the fastest growing sport on television. Formula 1 was also 2017’s fastest growing sport brand on social media

No athletic plays here, only a compelling mix of risk-taking, strategy and endurance which make Formula 1 one of the more exciting sports.

Additionally, if you like strong personalities , then Formula 1 has that in abundance. It’s biggest star, Lewis Hamilton ,is a mercurial, once-in-a-generation talent who is a perfect flag bearer for the sport. The hot-tempered Sebastian Vettel, the ice-cold Kimi Raikkonen, the reckless Max Verstappen, the cheery Fernando Alonso and a cohort of drivers all provide excitement and add fun to the races. Fernando Alonso in particular has ,time and time again, been able to come up with viral gems like this, this and this.

If competition is what you’re after, then Formula 1 has that in boatloads. The past three Formula 1 seasons have been full of exciting narratives and twists and have offered Formula 1 afficionados and the casual fan some of the most entertaining races in a long time.  In 2016 we saw Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton , the two Mercedes drivers,  duel it out over the course of the season with Nico Rosberg finally edging the Briton and winning his virgin driver’s championship. He ultimately retired right after that.

2017  was just as exciting with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, two of the most successful and dominant pilots the sport has ever seen(since 2010 only one other person has won a World driver’s championship other than these two) battling it out.  Basketball fans may see in the Vettel/ Hamilton rivalry parallels with some of the great rivalries in basketball: Bird vs Magic, Bill Russel Vs Wilt Chamberlain,  and Lebron James vs Stephen Curry.  And now 2018 has started off with a bang. Lewis Hamilton currently enjoying a 17 point advantage on Vettel after a thrilling and controversial win at the German Grand Prix last weekend.

If, for the past few years, it seemed as though Mercedes were dominating everyone else (they have won the constructor’s title four years in the row now and counting), it seems like the other constructors have finally bridged the gap.

Furthermore, the Sebastian Vettel vs Lewis Hamilton rivalry is gearing up to be something special, with things  off to a fantastic start this season, with Ferrari having closed the gap with Mercedes, and with both drivers relatively young (Vettel is 31; Hamilton is 33) It seems we may be looking at a few more seasons of exciting duels between these two titans of the sport. And the two stars may even have their heir apparent in the form of Nicolas Verstappen a young, risk-loving driver from Redbull waiting in the wings , in order to take the throne.

Draw: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel rivalry,  race strategy and tactics, exciting overtakes.

Where to watch it: Supersport , Canal + channel 13

Fixtures for the 2018-2019 season:  Hungarian GP , 29/7/18; United States GP  21/10/18; Brazillian GP 11/11/18; Abu Dhabi 25/11/18

Competition rating:  8/10  The Lewis Hamilton , Sebastian Vettel rivalry is as good as it comes. Stephen Curry vs Lebron james on wheels.

 

  1. WNBA

The Women’s National Basketball Association is turning 22 and is steadily growing its audience. As of today, it is the most high profile , and longest operating female professional sports league in the United States.  Truth is,  it should  be getting a lot more attention.

Slick crossovers? Check.  Flashy passes? Check. Spectacular circus shots? Check.

The WNBA is basketball played at a very high level , and it is truly on the cusp of going mainstream with a number of its stars steadily developing a large following and are already celebrities with developing brands and growing exposure in the us media.  Exciting stars such as Diana Taurasi , Skylar Diggins, Maya Moore and Brittney Griner leading their teams to championship glory.

Like every league , it has its dominant teams. Teams like the Minnesota Lynx ,who have won 4 titles since 2011, or the Los Angeles Sparks. And yet it does not suffer from the same lop-lopsidedness of its sister league the NBA.

The draw: Beautiful basketball, competitive league.

Fixtures for the 2018-2019 season:  August 21 playoffs begin.

Where to watch: ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 was the third most-watched WNBA Finals ever on ESPN

Competition rating: 8/10

  1. Boxing

To those who thought that boxing was on its way out, what a year 2017 has been for the boxing calendar: Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux, Anthony Joshua vs Vitali Klitschko, Errol Spence vs Kell Brook,  Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin all these stellar bouts culminating in the Mayweather vs Mcgregor fight. Though the results were never in doubt in a bout between the transcendent Mayweather, undefeated in 49 fights, and the superstar MMA fighter who had never done a single round of before, it served to cement the status of boxing as still the combat sport where the highest grossing events are held. The Mcgregor vs Mayweather fight was believed to have earned revenues in excess of $550 million.

The second half of the 2018 boxing calendar promises to be just as exciting , with Danny Garcia facing Shawn Porter in the loaded middleweight category and the rematch of Golovkin vs Canelo Boxing scheduled for the 15th September . Things are looking up for the sport. From the spectacular Lomachenko , the youngest ever to be a champion in three different weight classes,  to the rise of the Charlo brothers (Jermall and Jermell Charlo), the sport is once again teaming with talent and filled with future stars. Perhaps none more than Anthony Joshua, who at 28 is already the holder of the WBA , IBF and WBO heavy-weight belts. His anticipated bout with Deontay Wilder ( 40 wins 39 by KO) might be one of the biggest fights ever,  and he has been able to breath new life into the storied Heavyweight class, a weight class that had lost it’s prestige and was lacking the great talents and personalities of the by-gone Tyson/ Lennox Lewis era.

Boxing has many draws. Here the egos and bravado we find in the NBA are taken a few rungs up. The thrill of seeing two undefeated foes face each other , and the certitude of one’s legacy having to be rewritten is a great draw. For those who like competition, there might not be a more competitive sport. If only because even for its most gifted athletes , its most skilled practitioners, and even its most dominant champions there is always a possibility that they are upset.Watching boxers, is like seeing people walk a tight-rope: for in this sport where people age almost overnight and where everything (legacies, fame, and leads on the scorecards) can be overturned with one, well-timed punch, fighters tumbling into obscurity is always a possibility.

Draw: Big name fights;Unexpected results;controversial decisions;Vasyl ‘Hi-tech’ Lomachenko;Anthony Joshua.

Fixtures for the 2018-2019 season:   Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter 25/8/2018; Golovkin vs Canelo 15/9/18

Where to watch: Pay – per view, select international broadcasters.

Competition rating: 7/10

  1. Esports

One of the fastest growing sectors in sports.  It is expected to gross over $1.5 billion in revenue by 2020 . About 300 million people tune into League of legends today and some of the tournaments have jackpots worth up to 20 million dollars. Recently epic announced an investment worth $100 million dollars in Fortnite, the gaming phenomenon which has been taking over the world. Gaming is now a lucrative full-time occupation.

Many established sports teams have already begun to invest in e sports hoping to get in early into what can soon become a major industry such as here  and here. Many professional teams even have e sport divisions and have been actively signing talented e sports players to lucrative deals to participate in competitions representing them.

Players , but also teams, face themselves in e sports competitions spread over the course of the year hoping to win cash prizes and notoriety. The format also ensures that every single match  is meaningful and adds drama and excitement.

The Draw: Variety. On demand. Mostly free to watch. Most fixtures are cup match fixtures so every single game counts.

Fixtures for the 2018-2019 season:FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final 2-4th august 2018. For most other competitions look here

Where to watch: Twitch, Youtube, MLG.tv

Competition rating: 9/10

 

7. Laamb (Senegalese Wrestling)

The number 1 sport in Senegal, it even surpasses football in popularity. Senegalese wrestlers are celebrities in their home country. Initially a coming of age ritual , with young farmers gathering after the harvest to test their strengths, senegalese wrestling avec frappe (with blows) is now the most popular sport in Senegal and a very lucrative one at that. Fighters can look to win around $200,000 dollars a fight.  Over the years the sport has given rise to a number of famous champions who have become something of cultural icons not just in Senegal, but also in the rest of Africa. Champions such as  Serigne Ousmane Dia nicknamed ‘Bombardier’ ,  Mouhamed Ndao (‘Tyson’) or  Yakhya Diop (‘Yékini’) are idols for thousands of young aspiring wrestlers.

Today the sport is regulated by the Senegalese Wrestling Federation. Aspiring fighters join ‘Stables’ that are affiliated with the Senegalese Wrestling Federation.It is a system similar to that of Muay Thai fighters in Thailand or Sumo Wrestlers in Japan.  In these stables wrestlers learn their trade , living and training with other fighters and getting ready for fights.

Fights happen all year long on saturday and sundays where fans can see these giants, many over 6 foot 6 and weighing more than 360 pounds,  locked into battle and trying to topple each other over.

The Draw: Thrilling fights. Pre-fight rituals.

Fixtures for the 2018-2019 season:  Bombardier(Mbour) / Eumeu Sène (Ty Shinger)28/7/2018

Where to watch: Senegalese national broadcaster (RTS1)

Competition rating: 8/10

 

 

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