Over its 60 plus years of existence the NBA has been intertwined with American life and events that have shaped America have left lasting impacts on the NBA. Evens such as the 1970s gas shortages have give us the 2-3-2 format in the NBA finals. But what does the future have in store for the NBA? How will future events such as terrorism, and global warming mean for the NBA? Well, you are about the find out.
This article will look at ever increasing 10 year spans of time starting with the year 2020 and going until the year 2060. How will the next 50 years look, and what changes will it bring?
This is just one persons interpretation of how things will look in 50 years, I am not Michele De Nostradamus or any seer for that matter. My interpretations come from my knowledge of history and patterns in history as well as predictions made by leading scientist and historians.
10 years into the future and we see a similar yet different NBA. The free agency class of 2010 which was proclaimed to be the greatest class ever fizzled out early with most players staying in their locations. However, the American economy did not stay and hit the bottom in the summer of 2011. The recession of 2011 hit the sports entertainment world hard. The NBA would survive though but the damage had been done.
In the Collective Bargaining Agreements of 2012 the NBA abolished the salary cap in order to get the players union to concede guaranteed contracts. At first this was seen by fans as a great thing because the backlash had yet to be seen. With incomes at an all-time low since 1980 many of the smaller market teams could not afford to keep their star players so they sold them off to the bigger markets who had the money. Just two years into the new CBA the New York Knicks had amassed a salary of over 200 million dollars, while the Milwaukee Bucks total salary was less than 25 million dollars.
As the economy rebounded in 2015 so did the NBA income levels, but all this meant was the bigger markets had more money to spend. The economic rebound was based mostly on green energy technologies, which normally do not have anything to do with the NBA, but the 4th largest city in America is Houston, Texans and itís based on energy production; mainly oil. As oil starts to become less of a commodity the city and the Rockets begin to see a decline.
Americaís western movement continues throughout most of the decade with cities like Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake, Boise, Portland and Sacramento seeing a huge boom in population during this time. Conversely, cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston start to see their populations decline. The decline in Cleveland hitís the city and the Cavaliers so bad that they are forced to sell Lebron James to the Knicks. It took them 7 years but in 2017 Lebron James will be a Knick.
20 years into the future and we see a vastly different NBA. Only a handful of players from our era are still in the game, and massive relocations of franchises has forever changed the NBA geography.
In 2021 the city of Cleveland was no longer a viable option for an NBA franchise and the team is sold to an investment group from Boise, Idaho. The future does not look bright for other rust belt teams either, two years after the Cavs move to Boise the Indiana Pacers fold.
Violence in Detroit following an uprising in the Muslim communities over a court ruling over a depiction of their profit Muhammad leaves the city on the brink of destruction. Due to the violence and turmoil the team is temporarily relocated to Buffalo, New York.
In 2023 the Supreme Court of the United States rules against the NBAís 19 year old age limit allowing anyone as young as 16 to join the NBA. The influx of potential over substance is a godsend to the smaller markets who draft the players, develop them than when they reach star status trade them to bigger markets.
The decade of doom and gloom continues for the NBA when in 2024 hurricane James strikes New Orleans inundating the city with upwards of 10 feet of water. Unlike with Katrina 19 years prior the city is unable to recover. The 300 year old city is abandoned and the Hornets are relocated for a season in St. Louis. The next season they are purchased by a group out of Madrid who intends to relocate them to Europe.
During the 2025 all-star game the NBA announces that it will expand to Europe finally, adding 5 teams there as well as relocating three others. The Hornets, Pistons, and Bucks all move across the pond to form an 8 team European conference. The re-alignment sees an 13 team Western conference, a 13 team Eastern conference and the 8 team European conference. The playoffs are redone where the top 16 teams are seated 1-16 regardless of conference affiliation. This works remarkably well for the NBA.
In late 2028 the world markets collapse as China bursts into civil war. The NBA had talked about expanding there in 2030 but now thatís an impossibility. The war in China eventually engulfs most of the world as nations race to secure resources for both sides of the Chinese conflict. With resources scarce the 2029-30 NBA season is cancelled.
The NBA goes ahead and restarts during the 30-31 season but nothing will be the same as itís basically a whole new league. The European expansion turned disastrous as 2 of the former NBA teams and 1 European team resettle in the United States. The Memphis Grizzlies, Boise Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers do not rejoin the league when it re-starts. Denver, Utah, and Orlando need to take out loans to stay afloat.
The resource war in Asia actually leaves the United States sitting in a good situation with itís green energy investments because the oil supply is nearly gone now. For most of the league this is not an issue, but for the city of Houston itís nearly a death sentence. Two years after the league restarts the Rockets move to Kansas City.
Good times hitís the NBA and the US again. A huge influx of cash means there is plenty of money to go around and the 2030s are seen as another golden era of NBA basketball, because not only is there plenty of cash to go around but a lot of great players as well..
In 2035 the NBA expands in the US for the first time since it expanded to Charlotte when it grants franchises to Omaha, and Seattle raising the total number of teams to 28. Three years later the league expands to Vancouver and Montreal.
The league sees continued growth for the first half of the decade with all 30 teams making a profit. In the CBA talks of 2040 the league imposes a hard cap for the first time. For nearly 30 years teamís salaries had run amuck with some getting as high as 400 million dollars, but now the salary hard cap is set at 200 million dollars and no player can make more than 100 million per season.
In 2042 the NBA signs an agreement to hold a world basketball playoff system, where the NBA champion would than play in a playoff bracket consisting of the champions of the 7 other major basketball leagues around the world. The NBA does this because during the preceding decades many of these other leagues had been attracting NBA players to their leagues raising their competition.
In the 2044 elections an eco-leftist party gains control of the both the House and Senate. They impose new laws which require NBA arenaís to be 75% more efficient than they previously were by the year 2050. This is a death blow to the stoic Madison Square Garden which after over 100 years closes down as a new state of the art arena is built. New arenaís pop up all over the country as they are cheaper than retro fitting the existing ones. The governments of many cities refuse to help aid teams in building new arenas, and many start looking for new cities. The NBA does come up with a clever solution to this problem however, they allow advertising on jerseyís, courts, and even allow teams to change their names to support their investors. This saves all the franchises from moving, but we end up with team names like the Seattle Boeings, Philadelphia Banks of America, and Salt Lake Latter Day Saints.
The 2046 season begins with a lot of fan fair, itís the 100th NBA season and the league means to make it a memorable one. The NBA plays games in cities which it had once abandoned such as Boise, Memphis, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Detroit. At the all-star game they announce the greatest 100 players of all-time headlined by the only surviving member of the NBAís 50 greatest: Shaquille OíNeal.
Climate changes begin to impact the NBA hard and force two historic franchises out of their historic homes.
2051 see a huge hurricane hit Florida, both the Heat and Magic have their new arenaís damaged and have to play the 2051-52 season in various cities across North America. This is only a temporary hurdle for both of them as they return to their home cities in 2052.
While Florida has too much water, the American southwest doesnít have enough. The iconic green lawns and palm trees of LA are no more. The city has no water and the Lakers are forced to play their home games in Mexico City. Things are much worse in Phoenix were there is no water and 115 degree temperatures. The Colorado river is mere dribble by the time it hitís the Grand Canyon. Most residents flee the area and itís population which was close to 10 million drops to less than a million. The Suns join the residence and flee to Detroit which has rebuilt itself after nearly half a century of decline.
The 2056 season marks the end of the NBA as we know it. The league merges with the 7 other large leagues to create a massive new global basketball league.
Good times are seen through out the coming decades as relocations are kept to a minimal and climatic events become less frequent. In the year 2071 Jerry Sloan finally retires as coach of the Salt Lake Latter Day Saints.