Recognizing the NBA only picks up about 60 guys per year from the whole world would be a simple explanation for the drop in NYC ballplayers. This should not get in the way of good shock hooks for an essay. About 20% of the NBA is foreign born. This is a pool of talent that was virtually nonexistent 25 years ago. This is going to squeeze out not the best, but the bench warmer or specialist type talent that might have scooped up a NYC player. The idea of NBA player is the end result of a series of steps. This involves a filtered funnel because God forbid any progressive thinks of the thirty steps it takes to get to the NBA (like from infant to practicing surgeon). This article is not going to mention the staggering number of black American aborted since Roe v. Wade. Lebron James's mom was a pregnant teenager. If she gets an abortion like the high percentage of NYC black American teens do, no one knows Lebron because he does not exist. That is the lottery ticket of genetics there for the NBA. How many NBA players have been aborted since the '70s. Can't talk about it.
The article mentions the change in the game from being a city game to a nationwide game with the growth of players from the South and West. The quotations mention strength training and weight-lifting. This actually pushes towards the physical fitness at 13 setting the stage for 7 years later on draft night, which is absurd but par for the norm in today's "upside", "potential", "burst", etc. sports world. Unmentioned is that the game went from being a city and primarily Northeast game to a game all blacks identified as their game. Those boys from the South are black players. Scouting is far more spread out, so there is a national network of scouts picking up guys through the AAU system and not relying on high school competition like days of old. it is kind of like Harvard's ending of their entrance exam and reliance on the SAT combined with a lowering of the pre school pipeline for picking freshmen. It is not hard to see similarities if one wants to think hard enough.
This might be a stretch but look at NYC's population and what NYC's black population went through in the '80s, '90s and even today. The men quoted mention empty playgrounds and empty courts when kids used to shovel courts to play. What if some of it is video games and some of it is safety? Murders started to rise sharply in the '70s and peaked in the early '90s. A 23-33 year old player would've been a kid during the peak crack years. Did NYC lose a future superstar from murder, crime, jail or just the secondary effect of influencing a family to leave or a family to cocoon their child? It is a possibility. Just like NYC's black population being roughly the same it was 35 years ago, but childhood obesity today is far worse than it was in 1979. What if a kid ate himself out of competition? Not the short fat guys, but guys who skyrocketed to 6'4" but ate themselves to 292 pounds have potential. Slice off 10-15% of the black youths out there, and then you have fewer black males to send through the filtered funnel for the NBA.
This is all rather silly. To point out a drop in players from one city of an incredibly young game and even younger league is a bit of a waste of print space. Similar to news media, with the involvement of blacks, there are only so many appropriate reasons one can cite for an issue. The foreign player numbers cut into the black numbers as some foreigners are black foreign born players, so that unsettling feeling of being squeezed (whether Harvard, manual labor or the NBA) is there for American blacks. Best not ruffle feathers or think beyond idiotic points. The bigger idea is that basketball has grown in breadth of interest globally and NYC has stopped being the center of its earth. That is an interesting enough message that the mandarins of ESPN want to push anyway. There might be a dwindling interest from mainstream America, but by golly, the whole world cares now. Still, this is America, and the focus always has to be on America. This could just have been an article on the decline of basketball's connection to NYC. Similar to Notre Dame football though, when the Knicks bounce back, the cache will be there and it will be buzzing in the Garden.
Posted to SWPL Sports Review