All-Star streams more popular

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The Sports Business Journal, via an article by The Baseline’s Eric Freeman, is reporting that the ratings for this season’s All-Star Game fell off from last year. 6.9 million people watched this year’s All-Star Game, down from 7.6 million viewers in 2009. The decrease in viewers may have had something to do with the Vancouver Olympics; last time the All-Star Game went up against the Winter Olympics, it drew 7.1 million viewers. 

The good news for the NBA is how many people watched the All-Star Game online. Over the course of All-Star Weekend, 13.8 million people used the on-demand video streams provided by NBA.com.That number is up 43% from last year, and 146% more people used NBA Mobile over the course of the weekend. 
I used the stream that NBA.com provided during All-Star Saturday, and was absolutely stunned by the quality. The fact that it was a live event made it even more impressive. The NBA also made the choice to have the online stream show something other than just the broadcast. Online viewers only had to hear commercials, and got to see the players mulling around and talking with one another during timeouts. Online viewers also got to see Darryl Dawkins’ coat about a half an hour before it was unleashed on the general populous. 
There were some occasional drawbacks. At one point during the skills competition, the camera I was using focused on Emmitt Smith’s head the entire time a player was running the course, watching his face for a reaction for at least two full minutes. After that, I switched to “Mosaic” mode, which was a little confusing but made me feel like Ozymandias. 
Between the free All-Star game streams and League Pass Broadband, the NBA is clearly making an effort to change the way fans watch games. Judging by the numbers from All-Star Weekend, the plan seems to be working. 

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.