LeBron James missed the postseason for the first time since his sophomore season in the NBA this year. While the many events that led to that happening have been discussed ad nauseam, the effects of the situation have not.
While the NBA playoffs have been entertaining as always, the league’s ratings are down. NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes a lot of that has to do with James missing the playoffs, as well as where he now plays basketball.
Following transcribed by Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk:
Face it, LeBron is one of the biggest stars in the world, and he also played in the East.
And so, the reason I look a little bit tired is a lot of our games are in the West, and it’s late at night. And I recognize most people choose to go to sleep at a reasonable time. And so, from a rating standpoint, not having LeBron in the playoffs, not having him in the East, has clearly impacted ratings.
The NBA has always been a star-driven league so of course, LeBron missing the playoffs hurts regardless of the level of competition happening right now. The NBA deserves blame for that, though, due to their inability to truly market other superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard who are currently dueling in a very entertaining Eastern Conference Finals.
Also of interest to Lakers fans is Silver saying the NBA is considering moving start times of west coast games to an earlier time so that they do not lose east coast viewership. That line of logic makes sense from a televising standpoint (and that’s what the league cares about the most) but it would ruin the in-arena product as fans struggle to make it to Staples Center and other arenas before tip-off.
Make no mistake, though, Adam Silver and the NBA is desperate for the Lakers to get themselves together and reach the playoffs. That market and James’ fame would fix all of the league’s marketing and rating issues.