No one ever sets out to spend the prime years of their life carefully monitoring NBA ratings before synthesizing that information to issue sweeping conclusions to the online masses but it happens anyway. There is no shortage of replacement players in the marketplace of ideas where narrative is the most valuable commodity to fill the spots departed by those who simply cannot stand the discourse any longer. Whenever new data drops, the ratings community rushes to battle stations and prepares to wage anew.
The league itself — with all its obvious incentives — dropped the latest pamphlet, which trumpets a year-over-year viewership increase of 39 percent across TNT, ESPN and ABC.
Now, there are plenty of people who will remind you that none of this will impact your life in any way for a nominal fee. But anything can impact your life if you decide it does. Theater of the mind is a powerful venue.
Obviously the country is in a much better place than it was last summer when the oddness of bubbled postseasons was still novel. These playoffs feel more alive and returning to normal numbers is the definition of normalcy. Two New York and Los Angeles teams certainly help bottom-line jockeying.
At the same time, such a dramatic jump deflates a lot of the hot air coming from the Chicken Littles claiming no LeBron James or traditional powers would spell doom for the league. Things seem to be surviving post-Lakers and post-Knicks. We'll see if Brooklyn and Philadelphia bowing out before most expected will take some of the wind out of the NBA's sails.
Not holding my breath there.
And though it won't make life better or worse for me, I'm pulling for the good numbers to continue. Why? Because in some small way it might lend credence to the idea that fresh blood is good and that sweeping change is not something to be feared. That building up the Trae Youngs and Reggie Jacksons and Devin Bookers of the world is more additive to the finished tally than adding more room to already bright spotlights now in the rearview (Harden, James, Durant, Irving).
A radical redistribution of power can be a good thing, if allowed to be left to its own devices. Which feels increasingly rare, especially if this unique foray brings with it a ratings nosedive.