There have been many interesting basketball tournaments this year, but probably we all can agree that Olympics was one of the most interesting.
Rio Olympics was the highlight of the year for many basketball fans. All the countries who had earned their spot in the Olympics had their best players representing their countries. There were some surprising results and some favourites did not play very well and were eliminated in early stages.
As an example, Brazil is always very tough, but they underperformed and failed to make to the knockout stages. US on the other hand had a clean slate in the group phase and they won 5 games out of 5. They had a tough game against Spain in the semi-final, but were completely dominant in the final where they crushed Serbia. It was almost like team US did not even do their best. That’s how dominant they were.
Also, historically US has always performed excellently. Team US has been the most successful country in Olympics basketball through history and they have won 15 out of 18 tournaments where they took part. One reason behind the success is NBA, which is the best professional basketball league by any metric. Players are so good that US could have easily compiled two or more national teams and still probably could have been unbeatable.
Basketball is getting more popular in Europe
Very tough qualifier tournaments for European championships that will be held in 2017 are now finished. These qualifiers have attracted huge audiences and with a pinch of salt it can be argued that basketball is living its renaissance in Europe. Many countries that are not normally very keen on basketball have gotten very excited and basketball has received lots of attention in media and that has created lots of new fans.
One good example of such country where popularity of basketball has been growing rapidly is Finland. People have been very excited about the success of the national team. Many papers have written several stories about the team and their achievements.
Status of the players has also changed. Before members of the national team used to be rather anonymous, but now many people can recognize them and are asking for autographs and want to take photos with their new heroes. One truly devoted fan even booked a charter plane and took a group of fans from Finland to the qualifier tournament abroad. This kind of popularity is never seen in Finland before and Finland is just one the several countries where basketball making big waves.