After all, in addition to the nostalgia factor, you've LA involved, not to mention Boston, which is a heckuva better proposition than, oh, San Antonio and Cleveland, right?
So I was a little surprised to see the ratings for the series so far. Now, these are just for the first three games (game four ratings aren't available yet to non-insiders such as myself), but take a look:
Game 1: 8.7
Game 2: 8.5
Game 3: 9.2
Now, bear in mind that these are overnight ratings, which are almost always higher than the official ratings which will come out later.
The chart shows how the ratings have gone since David Stern took over the league in 1984. And, while this year's numbers are obviously higher than last year's (and when you add in game 4 and game 5, they'll higher still), it's not much of an improvement in the grand scheme of things.
In fact, if you were a pessimist, wouldn't you be disappointed with these ratings? Considering the hoopla surrounding the matchup, wouldn't you expect this year's series to do at least as well as the the 2004 Lakers-Pistons series? Well, thus far, the ratings are below that series, and I'd label that as disappointing. When you factor in that these are overnight ratings, I would say it's even more disappointing.
So, while the media continues to parrot David Stern's company line about improved ratings, it's a faulty argument. Yes, ratings are up over last year, but considering that last year's series was the lowest-rated in modern NBA history, wouldn't you expect that? For a league so full of bad news as the NBA, this is the best week of the entire year, the time when all of its sins are washed away by the goodwill generated by a Laker-Celtic final.
Next week, the Finals will be over, and Stern will be forced to endure an unending series of questions about the Sonics and Tim Donaghy. I hope an 8.5 rating is enough to comfort him.