Volume 93, Issue 49

Thursday, November 25, 1999


Western cheerleaders full of pep

Still purple after all these years

All 'Stangs get in sync

It's time to let Iverson shine

It's time to let Iverson shine

Has anyone noticed the National Basketball Association season has begun?

This year marks the second post-Jordan season, which could also be the reason why the NBA year has come in with a whimper rather than the usual fan fare which accompanies the start of their long march toward the playoffs.

It seems the NBA not only lost Jordan, but many fans who used to follow the game. Last year's NBA final between the New York Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs produced the lowest television ratings ever. Not even the marquee names of centre David Robinson and power forward Tim Duncan could save last year's championships.

This year, tickets sales are lower and the attendance at league games has dropped off considerably since the Jordan years.

Although it can be argued the loss of Jordan and the decline of the Chicago Bulls have created a wide open field for teams who used to fall by the wayside during the Bulls run to success – the real truth is that no one cared about those teams anyway. They were just fodder for the magic of the Bulls.

During the season Jordan played baseball, the NBA faced a similar decline in ratings and attendance throughout the league. Eventually his Air-ness returned and saved the game. Who will save the league now?

The NBA is well known for grooming their stars, they did so with Julius Erving, Ervin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird, but who will be their star now?

The obvious answer could be guard Allan Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers. Does he fit into the NBA image? Unfortunately not – Iverson is too much of a rebel for the squeaky clean image the NBA reserves for their major stars. Case in point – Iverson is the best player in the NBA, yet he does not receive the same endorsements as Jordan. He has the tools on the court, yet off the court his image is a negative one.

The next Air-apparent could be guard Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors. He fits into the NBA's pop and chip fantasy of what makes a good player - he doesn't have corn rolls or tattoos and can thus assimilate well with mainstream America.

Is this fair?

In a time of transition, the NBA has refused to push its real talent and rather, expects to groom another Jordan. Memo to the NBA – give Iverson a chance.

Maybe the answer is not to look for the next Jordan so soon. Fortunately, superstars like Jordan come along every once in a while, but this doesn't mean the NBA should not promote the stars of today.

Iverson is the man who should get the ball and create the future for the NBA. Maybe the league should update their view of what goes into being a basketball player.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999