The NBA has been mired in political controversy.
Much of that has been spearheaded by Lebron James, the face of the league.
But James won’t like this news about the NBA’s latest ratings.
For the first time in years, the NBA is enjoying strong playoff ratings, and the league is doing it without LeBron James.
James’s Lakers concluded a miserable regular season and finished in 11th place in the West, one spot short of the play-in tournament.
Without the face of the NBA, fans are still tuning in to the games.
“The NBA has continued to enjoy higher TV ratings as the playoffs continue with the L.A. Lakers and LeBron James sitting on the sidelines, down and out of contention. For now, the league’s three years of bottom-dwelling TV ratings have come to an end, and the NBA Playoffs have been earning record ratings, besting decades of dismal showings. The first few games had already resulted in the best ratings in 20 years, and that good fortune seems to have continued as the games rolled on to the final championship contest. On Sunday, the Warriors-Grizzlies game recorded its best Game 1 semifinal in eleven years…”
Notable: Sunday marked the first time in four years that ABC has averaged at least a 3.0 rating for both games of a doubleheader. Remember that the household rating (by definition) does not include out-of-home.
— Sports Media Watch (@paulsen_smw) May 3, 2022
James’s grip on the league could slowly be waning.
As the saying goes, Father Time is undefeated, and James turns 38 this year.
The plight of the Lakers should not come as a surprise.
It represents a pattern with James’ teams.
As NBA reporter Brian Windhorst explained, “He goes to Miami, four years, great run, they run out of draft picks. In his last game, three guys retired after the game. He goes to Cleveland, four years, great run. They run out of draft picks. They got old guys. Here we are in LA, fourth year. The oldest team we’ve seen in NBA history, they’re out of draft picks, they’re exhausted.”
James’ “win now” attitude forces franchises to sacrifice their long-term health.
Windhorst added, “LeBron’s career operates in four-year increments. He wears his team out. I call it organizational fatigue. It happened the first time in Cleveland. They ran out of draft picks, they had a bunch of guys in their mid-30s. Shaq close to the finish line, Antawn Jamison.”
Perhaps the league as a whole experienced the same fatigue.
It turns out that there are young stars that can be the face of the league without all of the drama and political posturing.
The league has quietly moved away from wokeness, and it’s reaping the reward with increased engagement.