Sports leagues made the regrettable decision to get political.
The NBA in particular has suffered because of the league veering away from purely sports.
Now the NBA is in a death spiral because of one anti-police protest.
The NBA has destroyed its brand.
LeBron James and other prominent players and coaches have doubled and tripled down on their political rhetoric, and the league is suffering.
Ratings for last season’s NBA finals were down nearly 70% from the year before, in large part due to the league going all in with political messaging.
The league promoted the Marxist group Black Lives Matter, allowed players to put progressive slogans on the backs of their jerseys, and even sat out playoff games because of a police shooting where a suspected rapist resisted arrest.
Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would transition away from the persistent politicking, but the league has not bounced back.
According to Outkick:
“Coming into the 2020-21 season, NBA games on ABC — the league’s most prominent broadcast partner — were down 45% since 2011-12. Yes, 45%. Within that same time frame, NBA broadcasts on TNT were down 40%, and ESPN was down 20%. Come next week, this story will, somehow, read worse. ABC’s damning declines are most concerning. Last season, the NBA on ABC recorded its lowest average on record, 2.95 million. While exact figures are yet to be determined, ABC games this season will still come in lower.”
Whenever it appears that the league will pull back, stars like James step on another land mine.
James recently sent a threatening tweet to a police officer before gathering all of the facts of the case.
He deleted the tweet and issued a fake apology, but the damage had already been done.
James was speaking in much different tones about police interactions in 2015 before he decided to campaign for Hillary Clinton.
Even since then, he’s raved about black men being “hunted” by racist killer cops and other such anti-police nonsense.
No sports league has been more adversely affected by political rhetoric than the NBA since May 2020, i.e. the beginning of the summer riots spurred by the death of George Floyd.
It also doesn’t help that the luminaries within the league are quick to lash out against Donald Trump and America writ large, but have been largely silent on the human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.
The NBA relies on the Chinese market, so they did not support general manager Daryl Morey when he tweeted support for pro-freedom protesters in Hong Kong.
The CCP took the NBA off the air, and Morey was even chastised by some within the league for his stance.
Since then, Mainland China has essentially annexed Hong Kong.
The NBA needs to steer clear of politics and focus on fixing the problems within the sport, such as so many players taking off games due to “load management.”