David Stern and the NBA owners don’t care what you think about an under-23 Olympic basketball tournament, because to them it’s about another way to make money off the players and you. This is all about money for them not whether it is good for the sport.
If the ratings here on NBC are any indication, you like Olympic basketball.
The gold medal game between the USA and Spain — on a Sunday morning — had an 8.2 rating and drew 12.5 million viewers. That is the most that have watched a gold medal game since 2000 and doubles the ratings from Beijing.
The NBC Sports Network broadcast the other USA men’s hoops games and those averaged 2.6 million viewers, up 81 percent from the USA network when it showed the Beijing. The biggest ratings for a game this time around? Argentina. Because you can’t take your eyes off Manu Ginobili.
If David Stern and the owners get their way and a World Cup of Basketball supplants the Olympics as the main international hoops competition (and the Olympics become an under-23 tournament) there will still be good basketball and patriotism, but the ratings simply will not be as good. For all our frustrations with the Olympics, we love the pageantry and the spectacle. We love the tradition. We love to see our hoop heroes mingled with gymnasts and cyclists and track stars. We love to see basketball as part of something bigger, not just another made-for-television tournament.
By the way, the USA women’s gold medal game drew 10.2 million viewers, up 73 percent from Beijing four years before.
And the ratings from Rio — just one time zone ahead of the USA’s East Coast, should even be better.