Why anime is so popular among NBA stars

Why anime is so popular among NBA stars

Photo: Edgar Chaparro via Unsplash

NBA stars are usually painted with the same brush as athletic high-school jocks who developed their talent to become among the best basketball players in the world. But there is much more to someone than their job, and most of us have more than one passion. The stereotypical NBA personality is being broken by getting to know these players off the court.

Long gone are the days when NBA was all about courtside action and checking out the odds on your team winning. Now we have a massive interest in players and other aspects of their lives, leading to enormous engagement between ballers and sports fans. And that engagement is uncovering NBA players’ hobbies and interests that may catch us by surprise, such as an interest in anime.

Which NBA players enjoy anime?

Two of the biggest NBA names that have been on record to state how much they enjoy anime are the one and only Thomas Bryant and 76ers’ Joel Embiid. The former says he used to stay up really late to watch the shows and was a big fan of Toonami when it was shown on Cartoon Network. His love of this Japanese pastime stems from a passion for art and drawing. At the same time, Joel Embiid was seen watching anime on his smartphone courtside as a trainer worked on his tight muscles.

Kiwi professional Steven Adams, now at Pittsburgh, told reporters that he skipped watching opening game night to watch anime instead.

Photo: ralpoonvast via Pixabay

Are NBA players making anime cooler?

Some may consider an NBA player openly declaring how much they love anime as a route to making it cooler, but the consequences of NBA players telling the world how much they enjoy Japanese animation may have more significant benefits to society.

These professional basketball players and global stars have a massive following and platform to spread good messages. By stating they enjoy anime, which may be seen as ‘uncool’ to some, it breaks down stereotypes within the world of professional US sport and might encourage someone else to be open about the hobbies and activities they enjoy.

For example, an NBA star telling the world they enjoy this type of cartoon could lead to a basketball high-school student openly stating they love drama or poetry and encourage them to do what makes them happy rather than what makes other people happy or readily accepting of them without the fear of judgement.

Are there any basketball anime series?

Basketball is also hugely popular in Asia, the birthplace of most anime shows. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are many excellent series based on basketball or have basketball themes within some episodes. It also may be why NBA players are getting into the genre. Some of the best basketball anime and manga shows are:

  1. Dear Boys (Hoop Days)
  2. Slam Dunk
  3. Ahiru no Sora
  4. Kuroko no Basuke

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