WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- At Sunday's USA Basketball media availability, some reporters were still embroiled with the 1992 Dream Team vs. today's squad argument.
Can we all stop with the shenanigans? It's a senseless debate that will never be solved.
At George Washington University, I tried to play my part by uniting the various generations of hoopers with a different question to ponder: Can basketball ever overtake soccer as the world's most popular sport?
It may seem like a farfetched question until you look at some recent data. In China, NBA merchandise quadrupled last season, and TV ratings are up 39 percent -- even without the now legendary Yao Ming in the fold. And basketball is quickly becoming the second favorite sport in India, a country of 1.2 billion people. Combined, India and China equal out to 36 percent of the world's population.
"The fact that we are where we are now is a huge accomplishment," said Kobe Bryant. "Soccer is such a global phenomenon. Basketball, man we are getting there. It's improved a great deal since I was growing up."
The sport has seen astronomical growth outside of America since the 1980's. The fascination with the 1992 Dream Team, David Stern's worldwide vision and the increase of international players in the NBA, has brought in millions of new fans each year.
But soccer is soccer. Fifa reports that over 3.2 billion people watched the 2010 World Cup, also known as 46.2 percent of the entire population. Soccer will continue to dominate in less affluent parts of the globe, because only a ball is needed to play. The world's most popular sport isn't exactly slowing down.
"It would be tough," stated LeBron James. "I understand because I'm a big soccer guy, and [I know] how
huge soccer is in the world. Me being a basketball player, we pride
ourselves on being the best sport in the world. Time will tell."
"Soccer has a unique following around the world. Whenever the World Cup
comes up, you always see people going pretty crazy for it," added Kevin Love.
Love brings up an intriguing point. A World Cup: something that's been rumored to be David Stern's prized possession. The rumbling is that a basketball world cup would then make Olympic competition only available to those 23 years-old and under. Even though there is still FIBA's world championship's, several marquee players sat out during the event, making it a lackluster affair.
As the attraction of a bouncing orange ball rises throughout the heavily populated Asia, basketball's global icons will persist in their engaging ways.
"We will continue to do what we've been doing to get it to the next level -- which is grassroots, camps, raising the awareness of the game and the beauty of the game," said Kobe Bryant. "We've been doing a fine job of it."