Last year, following an ugly lockout, the NBA returned to action on Christmas Day with its first games being the best matchups shown on national television. Fans said “what lockout?” and watched in record numbers.
This Christmas, with one-third of the NBA season gone? Numbers were down slightly over last year but up from a couple of years ago.
The highest rated game was Thunder at Heat, which got a 6.0 nationally and that makes it the fourth-highest rated regular season game ever on ABC. Last year the Bulls and Lakers drew a 6.5 rating in that same spot, which was down over the Lakers and the Heat from the year before.
The big surprise this season was the Knicks and Lakers drawing a 5.9 rating with the early game on ABC — the highest rating ever in that slot for ABC on Christmas Day. It beat the 5.6 that Miami and Dallas had in a finals rematch.
The other games on ESPN were all up from two years ago, but down from last year when there was a “the season is starting buzz.” The early game of the Celtics wiping the floor with the Nets drew a 2.7 rating, which tied 2010. The Rockets running past the Bulls drew a 1.7 ratings, up 21 percent from two years ago. The Clippers dunk fest on the Nuggets drew a 2.0 rating, up 54 percent form two years ago (when the game was Blazers and Warriors).
If you are saying to yourself “The NBA should start every season on Christmas Day” I would say fine. As soon as you convince the owners that they don’t need the revenue from the first quarter of the season — because you already convinced the players to take a 25 percent pay cut to make it work — then you can come talk to me.
David Lee was certainly not going to swing the series against the Warriors one way or another. However, the veteran forward with a varried offensive game still has an NBA role in the right setting.
He has a $1.6 million player option with the Spurs next season, and whatever he decides it’s good news that he will not need surgery to repair the knee injury that sidelined him in the Conference Finals. From Ramona Shelburn of ESPN.
Good news to end the week. David Lee doesn’t need surgery on his knee, per his agent Mark Bartelstein. He’s got a sprained patellar tendon that should heal in about six weeks.
As a big off the bench, David Lee can still help the right team. His game has limitations, but put him in the right situation and he can help. It’s just that due to injury, the Spurs had to ask more of him in the playoffs than he can deliver anymore.
Last year, the Warriors entered the NBA Finals with the weight of expectations: Defending NBA champions, 73 regular season wins, if they got the title they would leap up the ladder of all-time great teams, lose and it would be a massive let down. We all know what happened from there.
The Warriors are back in the Finals, taking on the Cavaliers for the third year in a row — but this year things are going to be different. Mostly because of Kevin Durant changing the equation. But also the Warriors mindset is better if you ask Draymond Green. Which Mark Spears of ESPN did.
This makes sense. The Warriors to a man denied the pressure and how physically/mentally taxed they were by the chase for 73, but it clearly wore on them physically and mentally. Green was thrashing about and drawing techs, over-reacting to everything (although sometimes that feels like his default setting). Curry was injured but also tired. The Warriors opened the door, LeBron James and the Cavaliers stormed through it.
Will a rested Warriors make a difference this time around? Maybe. But again, Durant matters more than rest.
The Harlem Globetrotters dropped the Washington Generals as an opponent a couple years ago – a sad development for basketball traditionalists.
But the sport’s most-lopsided rivalry is returning.
Darren Rovell of ESPN:
Sources said the Generals will be put into rotation to play the Globetrotters again as early as this summer and will take on a greater life than before as the lovable losers.
This just feels right. There’s a spirit about the Generals that complements the Globetrotters so well.
The current, authoritarian government in Turkey is not big on dissent (they have beaten protestors of the Turkish regime at a march in this country). Or human rights.
So what’s real trouble for them is opposition and dissent from a famous, well-known person.
Which brings us to Oklahoma City big man Enes Kanter. He is a native of Turkey, and he has been outspoken in his opposition to that country’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last week the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was traveling the globe promoting his charity. He barely got out of Indonesia and was able to get to Romania, where he was detained for a stretch before getting to return to the United States via London.
Now, the Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, reports the Agence France-Presse.
Turkey issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a “terror group”, a pro-government newspaper reported.
A judge issued the arrest warrant after an Istanbul prosecutor opened an investigation into Kanter’s alleged “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, Sabah daily reported.
He is in no danger of being extradited by the United States because of this. If anything, it strengthens his case for U.S. citizenship based on asylum.
Kanter is a supporter of the Gülen movement in that country, which is led by the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. That movement has opposed Erdogan (who recently won a disputed election in that country that gives him sweeping, almost dictatorial powers). Erdogan blamed Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, one with members of the military involved (after that attempt members of the Gulen movement have been swept up by the government all over Turkey). This has come at a cost for Kanter, who has been disavowed by his own family because of his political beliefs.
Kanter is not about to back down from his position. Which means it may be a long time before he gets to visit his homeland again.