Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Did the commissioner signal the death knell for fantasy basketball on Monday when he canceled the first two weeks of NBA regular season games?
I think the answer must be in the affirmative.
NBA fantasy basketball already struggled to hold its own against the much more popular sports of NFL football and major league baseball. In fact, if recent IPSOS Public Affairs statistics on fantasy player numbers are to be believed, "The Association" is also behind racing fantasy in players and only marginally ahead of golf and college football.
NBA fantasy participation is limited because of the every day nature of the sport. It is similar to baseball fantasy in that a team owner must update his lineup on a daily basis. Which translates to a sport which is much more intrusive on a fantasy owner's "real" life than a once-a-week sport like football.
But unlike baseball which seems to have a dedicated core group of fantasy players who are willing to give up large amounts of their personal time to statistical analysis and the sport, the NBA lot seems much less devoted.
Perhaps they will take their cue from some of the NBA's star players who have already jumped ship for other leagues around the world (see Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Andre Kirilenko, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Mehmet Okur)?
If the prospective NBA fantasy owner can't play fantasy basketball, he can simply shift his fantasy focus to another sport. Based on the statistics, that prospective NBA fantasy team owner is likely already an NFL fantasy player and that team will keep him busy through January. And he can still sign up for a fantasy hockey team who's season has just gotten underway.
For the fantasy player, there are always options. No sport or those who control the sport should think that they are holding all the cards and that fantasy players will be willing hostages...except maybe for the NFL. Thank goodness cooler heads prevailed in professional football and they settled their lockout in a more timely manner.
As for the NBA, David Stern and Derek Fisher, goodbye. See you in 2012........ maybe.
2011 Fantasy Players (U.S. and Canada) - Total 34,000,000
Pro Football - 75% (25.5 million)
Baseball - 38% (12.92 million)
Auto Racing - 23% (7.82 million)
Pro Basketball - 20% (6.8 million)
Golf - 15% (5.1 million)
College Football - 15% (5.1 million)
Hockey - 11% (3.74 million)
Soccer (mainly Premier League) - 7% (2.38 million)
(Data based on May 2011 poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs; margin of error +/- 2.8%)