For decades — since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird — the NBA has marketed its stars more than its teams. With that, the NBA’s television ratings and national popularity have been tied to the quality of its stars.
When the 2015 NBA Finals pitted the two most popular players in the game today — LeBron James and Stephen Curry — the NBA was in for a ratings bonanza.
These NBA Finals averaged 19.9 million viewers per game, up 30 percent from last year (when LeBron James was there taking on Tim Duncan and the Spurs), the league and ESPN/ABC announced. That is the highest ratings ever since ABC took over the broadcasts. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported it’s the highest ratings for an NBA finals since 1998 — Michael Jordan’s final season (we choose to ignore the Wizards years).
NBA television viewership has been up and down in recent seasons, but the drama of this series drew viewers to their televisions.
It also sent them to social media — Facebook reported 32 million of its users were discussing the NBA Finals and there were 98 million video views tied to the Finals.
The real test for the NBA is to build on this next year — regardless of who makes the NBA Finals.
Wednesday morning I took to twitter and asked for people’s reactions to the NBA Finals. Then we took some of the best of those and talked them over with Jenna Corrado in this PBT Extra.
At the top of the list: People didn’t love the pick of Andre Iguodala as the MVP.
Did you even remember Danny Granger was with the Suns?
Granger spent the start of the season with the Miami Heat but played a limited role, then he was shipped to Phoenix as part of the three-team Goran Dragic trade. Granger took his time joining up with the Suns and never played when he did.
But the man wants to get paid, so he opted into his contract, reports Eric Pincus of BasketballInsiders.
There is zero chance Granger — at the tail end of a nice NBA career cut short by injuries — was going to get $2.1 million on the open market, so he is taking the cash owed him. It’s the smart business move.
The Suns might try to move that contract with another trade.
Meanwhile, Granger will work out and get treatments this summer from the apparent miracle workers that are the Phoenix Suns training staff. Maybe after a summer with the Suns he can have some value on the court again. Maybe.
The buzz out of SXSW (where it was screened) is that LeBron James is kind of a scene stealer in the upcoming Judd Apatow film, “Trainwreck.” You may have seen the ads during the Finals.
Of course, even if LeBron is the best thing in the film, the movie’s MVP award will be given to Bill Hader or Amy Schumer. That’s just the way things go for LeBron lately.
Above is a little sneak preview of the film. You’re going to have to wait until July 17 to see the entire film.
It’s impossible to fairly place a team like the Golden State Warriors in the context of history within 24 hours after a title — but welcome to the Internet, where we try to do it anyway.
I think in 15 years, we will look back on this Golden State team as the team that ushered in a new era of NBA basketball. One where teams want to play fast and small, to shoot the three, and to count on motion and ball movement to get good looks. One that is entertaining to watch. We started to see the evolution with Miami and San Antonio the last two seasons, but Golden State took it all to another level.
Jenna Corrado and I discuss that in this latest PBT Extra, but I think to solidify their legacy they need to get back to another Finals or two, at the very least.