Young kids are reaping the benefits of NBA Finals MVP LeBron James’ retirement from the league and his passing, a trend that could lead to a revival of youth basketball in the coming years.
“It’s been really great,” said Josh Young, 14, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“It’s a lot easier to play than ever before.
You can go anywhere and play.
It’s a whole new feeling.
I’m getting to know my teammates better.
I think I’ll be more competitive now, too.
I’ve had a lot of fun with my friends.”
According to ESPN, about 5,000 kids aged 12 to 17 play youth basketball at a high school level in the United States each year, with about 4,000 of those games being played in the U.S. The sport is booming, with the number of youth teams climbing by 40 percent since 2010.
“We are seeing an increase in young kids playing, which is exciting,” said Michael J. Johnson, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which oversees the organization’s sports programs.
“The kids have more time to play.
They’re playing with younger kids.
They’ve got less supervision.
They can play with younger people in their neighborhoods.
So we’re seeing the first signs of the growth in this sport.”
The NBA is not the only sports league that has seen a boom in youth basketball.
Major League Baseball saw a 36 percent jump in youth participation during the 2015-16 season.
The number of young players in professional leagues across the country rose by 30 percent in the same period, according to Sports Illustrated.
The NFL is a big contributor to that growth.
According the Sporting News, the league has had an active presence in youth sports since it began in 1954, with more than 1,200 teams across 13 divisions.
There are now more than 20 teams in the NFL.
The league is a $1.6 billion enterprise, and the average salary of its players is about $100,000.
Youngs, who plays for the Orlando Magic, is the youngest player to ever play in the NBA.
The team that he joined in 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers, was a perennial contender for the championship.
But the team was hit by injuries during the 2014-15 season.
Young was a key part of the Lakers’ title run, averaging 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during the regular season and playoffs.
But he missed four games in January with a strained right shoulder.
He came back and led the team in scoring for the first time in his career.
The Lakers finished the season with the league’s eighth-best record, and Young was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for March.
With the Lakers out of the playoffs and in the final weeks of the regular campaign, Young decided to return to the NBA and play for the Los Angels Angels.
He was named a first-team All-Star for the third time in four years.
While he’s been back on the court, Young has been a fan favorite.
After playing in just five games last season for the Lakers, Young was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft.
A two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, Young’s success earned him an All-NBA first- team nod and a spot on the All-Rookie first team.
It’s the latest in a string of memorable seasons for Young, who was named to the All of the Day team in 2014.
During the 2016-17 season, he was named an All.WNBA First Team All-American.