David Stern was a marketing genius when he decided to go opposite the normal marketing thinking when it came to sports. Instead of marketing the team, uniform and logo, he put the players front and center. That saved the NBA from losing a number of teams in the 80’s. At the time the NBA was so low on the totem pole that the NBA Finals were tape-delayed.
Stern had two aces in the hole in Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. These two players were beyond their years as basketball players and their maturity level off the charts. The really helped the league’s notoriety and finances
The other key rarely mentioned in the NBA’s turnaround was that most players at the time were mature and well-schooled at understanding the game. They recognized it was a privilege to play professionally.
Magic and Bird were given superstar treatment before the rings. They had commercials, dollars and fame before they even played one NBA game. This obviously bothered their peers, but they quickly recognized those two were the real deal and accepted their rock-star status with admiration and respect.
Magic’s early entry into the NBA as a college sophomore officially started an avalanche of players leaving school early. Everybody wanted to take the same path. Nowadays, it’s almost a negative if a college player stays in school past his second year.
The league has at times suffered because of this trend.
Enter DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings center has become a shining example of a talented player that has no clue about respecting the game of basketball. Although he was physically ready for the NBA, he was not (and still is not) mature enough to handle the responsibilities in front of him.
When critics are comparing you to guys that played the game with passionless effort, with a total disregard for authority and you still exhibit actions validating their opinions, you would think something would click.
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