As the league marches on, now in its eighth season, its relevance to the masses remains quite insignificant. Part of the problem is that the extraordinary highlights -- not to forget many routine ones, too -- are not shown on the news, not on regular NHK, Fuji, Asahi, Nippon TV nor TBS, TV Tokyo ... any other big-time broadcast outlets on a regular basis.
Game highlights can be great tools for sparking greater interest in the league and the sport.
"That was one of the most spectacular shots....that almost no one saw...except for the fans in the gym, and the few watching BJTV," one observer commented the other day, thinking about what Namizato had accomplished.
"If this was the U.S., and that buzzer beater was shown on national TV the way a similar play in the States would have been, every boy and girl in Japan who plays basketball would have been in the gym today imitating that shot and dreaming of the day they got the chance to hit a game winner."
So what did he think about the lack of TV coverage for this sensational play?
"Not just sad. Tragic," the source declared.
"Which just shows how tough some of the guys (like Tabuse, KJ and Taishi at Toyota, and Kawamura in the JBL, Cohey, Joho, and Namizato in the bj-league) must be to take non-traditional routes to becoming professional players."
Game highlights on TV are needed to grow the game. The TV networks' news directors must be convinced that this is the case, too. It's worked in Japan for the J.League since Day One.
According to FIBA, here are the relevant numbers related to basketball in this country:
32,939 registered clubs
271,687 licensed female players
326,027 licensed male players
3,000,000 unlicensed players
So, you see, there is a market out there to showcase the game in the mass media. It'll take visionary leadership to make it happen.