I'm a Canadian and big basketball fan, especially with the season the Raptors had this year. The NBA and American basketball is going through the same phase the NHL went through back in 1998. Canada has always been considered a hockey powerhouse, and as Canadians we assumed we would win gold in any international competition. However that year the men's and women's national team lost in the Olympics and the Canadian Jrs. came in 8th at the World Junior Championships after winning the tournament 5 years in a row! In the NHL the majority of the top scorers were from Europe. The likes of Jarimir Jagr, Peter Forsberg, and Pavel Bure were the names everyone was talking about.
The sky was falling for Canadian hockey. If we weren't the best at hockey what would we do?! All the top coaches and executives involved in hockey development got together for conferences and came up with a plan to develop individual skills at a younger age rather then playing a team defence or offence.
Why were Canadians suddenly inferior in hockey. Was it our coaches fault, were kids not interested anymore, or did we just not have the skills. I tend to think it had more to do with increased interest in hockey from the rest of the world. The more kids participating in hockey from other countries the more funding there is for coaching and facilities and the greater the chance of finding athletes with great skills. Essentially the world was catching up with Canada.
This is exactly what is happening in the NBA and American basketball. You take Steve Nash for example. Since Steve has become the MVP he is idolized all over Canada. You drive down any neighbourhood in my area and you will see more basketball nets then you will see hockey nets. The interest from kids is at an all time high and it is far cheaper to have your kid play basketball then hockey.
America should not worry about an increase in international stars because there is only one Dirk Nowitzky on the German team. There is only one Tony Parker on the French team, and there is only one Steve Nash on the Canadian team. America, like Canada in hockey, has so many highly skilled players that they could put together two or three teams in an international tournament and have all of them compete for a medal.
Basketball truly is an international sport and the whole world is trying to catch the Americans.