Just this last summer we saw how the entire world was carried away when the 2014 FIFA World Cup was staged in Brazil. More than a billion people tuned in to watch Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the event's final.
The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, however, is a totally different story. It starts this weekend, yet nobody seems to care about it except for those hardcore fans who practically live and sleep hoops. Unlike its football counterpart, the basketball World Cup isn't a holy grail of the sport and doesn't appeal to the common man.
It's not like the game in itself isn't exciting enough for a larger audience. In fact, basketball is the most popular of the four North American sports outside the United States. So what is it then? What can the game's governing bodies do to bring their sport's world championship as big as football's? This:
Take Away NBA's Power to Veto Player Selection
While the spree of Team USA superstars withdrawing from the World Cup has evened up the playing field, it is still not the right thing to do. Under the current agreement between the NBA and FIBA, the NBA franchises have the option to withdraw their players from the World Cup, if there is a reasonable medical concern.
There doesn't even have to be an actual injury for them to use their veto power. This was the case last month when the San Antonio Spurs invoked the said clause and prevented Manu Ginobili from taking part in Argentina's campaign due to a stress fracture that would have likely healed by the time the event began on August 30.
Eliminate Player Option For Withdrawal As Well
Similarly, active players shouldn't have the power to ditch international duty if fully fit. Kevin Durant quit the Team USA camp simply because he was mentally drained. This never happens in football.
Increase Prize Money
Germany's big win in Brazil last month earned its squad a lot of respect but also a cool $35million in prize money. While money may not be a motivating factor for the super-rich NBA superstars, it might make players from other less affluent countries' player put in some extra effort.
Make the NBA and FIBA Basketball Game Rules the Same
The American and the international game of basketball have a number of rule differences. The disparity is a major turn off for the U.S. audience.
Spend More $$$ On Marketing
No one knows about the basketball World Cup because no one has been told. As incompetent as FIFA is in most areas, it does an excellent job of hyping up its events. FIBA and the NBA have some learning to do. Re-branding the World Championship as the FIBA World Cup was a step in the right direction. Next up on FIBA's agenda should be a dedicated song for the event, a grand opening ceremony and getting an international music star to become its face.