The NBA is dying. It’s a self-inflicted wound, of course, so expressions of sorrow should be kept to oneself.
But some of us have been watching the NBA even when it was unwatchable. Then came Russell-Chamberlain, Magic-Bird, Michael vs. the world, and suddenly, it was cool to watch the NBA.
A lot of other people thought so. The NBA Finals became a global phenomenon with an estimated billion people watching worldwide. It was one of the most-watched sporting events on the planet and some of its players became global brands.
Today, it’s a chore approaching drudgery to watch the NBA. It’s impossible to escape the politics that has been injected into the game. And when the woke announcers pause long enough in their speechifying for a little basketball to be played, the games are boring.
The NBA Finals began on Wednesday night. It’s a reasonably good matchup with the team from the largest city in the United States, the Los Angeles Lakers, featured. Also, one of the all-time greats, LeBron James, was playing. Surely the fans will be glued to their TV screens to see LeBron go up against a Miami Heat team with a decidedly international flavor and a star player who’s very good but whose name no one can pronounce. (“Bam” Adebayo).
Instead, Game 1 of the Finals had the lowest recorded TV audience in history.
Wednesday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals (Heat-Lakers) averaged a 4.1 rating and 7.41 million viewers on ABC, comfortably the lowest rated and least-watched NBA Finals game on record (dates back to 1988). The previous lows were a 5.2 and 8.06 million for Nets-Spurs Game 2 in 2003.
As goes without saying, it was also the least-watched Finals opener on record. The previous low was 9.21 million for Cavaliers-Spurs in 2007.
But it’s not just this year. As the league has gotten more political over the years, fans have voted with their TV remotes.
Since 2012, viewership for the NBA on ABC resembles a former yearly revenue chart at Blockbuster headquarters. From 2012 to 2020, broadcast NBA ratings are down 45%. In simple terms: horrific.
Due to self-destruction, the NBA is a mess. The politicization of professional basketball puts ESPN’s Mark Jones’ left-wing Twitter to shame.
Maybe it has something to do with this.
The league is more hypocritical than the participants in Tuesday’s debate. Led by social justice warrior LeBron James, the NBA players who claim to put human rights ahead of their dollars are still earning millions from the Chinese Communist Party.
“No comment,” that’s how LeBron responded to the shooting of two police officers in Los Angeles.
How brave of the guy who wants the NBA to shut up about Chinese human rights abuses.
It is not only the players. The broadcasters involved appeared to be auditioning for some new radical news network that no one will watch. A sports fan can’t turn on an NBA broadcast without random pundits presenting subjective worldviews as indisputable facts.
In the middle of a halftime show, Jalen Rose yelled, “arrest the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor.” Per Jalen Rose, he is more equipped to charge citizens than our legal system.
Cringeworthy moments like that are why people of all races have tuned out the NBA. It doesn’t help that the game has gone from bad to worse to incredibly boring over the last decade.
The players don’t play defense, they can’t shoot, team play is unheard of. But man, can they dunk that ball. The players know that every dunk is going to be on the nightly highlight shows so whenever possible, they look to make a “statement” with their dunk.
If I wanted to watch aerial acrobatics, I’d go to the circus. In a sporting event, it just gets boring after a while.
How long before the league collapses under the weight of its political messaging? It will take a while. The billion-dollar TV contract keeps even the worst teams afloat. Even if no one is in the stands to watch, the teams make money.
But someday, even that gravy train will stop and the players will be left alone to rail against how “oppressed” they are while pulling in multi-million-dollar salaries.