Reports that NBA Finals ratings have sunk to unprecedented depths may be traced to the Black Lives Matter politicization of the game that has sparked fan boycotts. The same may be true for Major League Baseball. But there is a contributing factor that goes into this overwhelming reason for spectator indifference that doesn’t get enough attention.
The 2020 NBA playoffs have been roundly denounced as boring by those who have made an effort to watch. Shot-making and ball movement have been abysmal. It turns out that self-absorbed celebrity activists make for deficient professional athletes.
“Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the [Los Angeles] Lakers and [Miami] Heat utterly collapsed with just 4.5 million viewers,” the website Outkick reported Oct. 4. “The embarrassing average is down — wait for it — 68% from last year’s Game 2, which featured a team in Canada.”
OutKick continued, “How bad is the number? It’s the least-watched NBA Finals game on record. Dropping even below Game 1’s 7.41, the lowest-viewed Finals opener in history.”
Yes, the sight of NBA multi-millionaires strutting their wokeness before the cameras as they align themselves with the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement in the name of “social justice” is perhaps mainly responsible for this ratings disaster. But it should not go unmentioned that the games have been mostly unwatchable. Instead of sharpening their political posturing, players should have been polishing their jump shots.
Chuck and Clang
The decisive Game 7 of the Boston Celtics-Toronto Raptors playoff series on Sept. 11 spoke volumes. The Celtics have long been a linchpin franchise for the league, and the Raptors were defending NBA champs. This was a marquee series going down to the wire. And what did unfortunate viewers who tuned in get to see?
The two teams combined to shoot 17-66 from three-point range. That means they missed just a hair shy of three out of every four long-distance jumpers they chucked up while catapulting a whopping 66 of them in 48 minutes. You do not need to know anything about basketball to understand that this is jaw-droppingly awful. How selfish do you have to be to keep shooting from deep range like that when you are missing three out of every four times? Who would ever want to watch something like that? Sadly, this kind of shooting performance is routine in the skills-challenged NBA today.
Watching that Celtics-Raptors game, fans could not be blamed for wondering if there were any coaches around to rein in their wildly undisciplined players. How passé. The modern NBA athlete seems to not care for taking instruction.
You’re Not the Boss of Me
Witness Kyrie Irving, star guard of the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets caused another tedious pro sports racial kerfuffle when they named NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash their new coach in September. Nash, a Caucasian, had no previous head-coaching experience, so naturally “white privilege” was trotted out as a reason for his hiring. Never mind that numerous former league superstars, black and white, have become NBA head coaches without having had previous experience.
Far more disturbing was Irving’s reaction to the move. The pampered veteran, who garnered a well-earned reputation for being “difficult” at previous NBA stops in Cleveland and Boston, declared that Nash’s new position would be part of a “collaborative effort” with players.
“I don’t really see us having a head coach,” Irving proclaimed on a podcast hosted by his teammate, superstar forward Kevin Durant. “[Durant] could be a head coach, I could be a head coach [some days].”
Fully embodying the spirit of the modern spoiled professional athlete, Irving explained that he wanted his new (don’t call him) coach to “get to know him as a person.”
“I want somebody that’s gonna understand that I am a human being first, I serve my community first, and then basketball is something I do every day because I love,” Irving stated. “We don’t need someone to come in with their coaching philosophy and change everything we’re doing.”
If you wanted to know how a team could attempt a staggering 38 three-point shots in a win-or-go-home playoff game while only making nine of them, as the Celtics did in that horrific Game 7, there you have it. NBA players are simply not coachable anymore. Expect things to become even more unsightly as Irving’s corrosive mindset takes hold throughout the league.
But it’s not just the NBA. Major League Baseball’s absurd “everybody gets in” Coronavirus 2020 playoffs are underway, and atrocious baseball has been granted a national spotlight.
Gotta Do It My Way
The Cincinnati Reds had been widely heralded as one of the most dangerous teams entering the postseason due to an excellent starting pitching rotation. The team’s ace Trevor Bauer completely shut down the Atlanta Braves in game one of their best-of-three playoff series. But the Reds did not win because their offense put on a display of gross ineptitude that owed as much to pure selfishness as it did to a complete lack of hitting fundamentals.
The Reds repeatedly had runners in scoring position with less than two outs at key moments of the game. On multiple occasions, players just needed to hit a fly ball, and they likely would have won. But the Reds, like too many modern MLB teams, apparently don’t understand and don’t care to learn the basics of situational hitting, once a vital skill. The team conducts itself like a beer league softball squad, swinging for the fences nonstop. It was either home run or strikeout against the Braves, despite the fact that a crucial playoff game was in the balance. The two teams went on to combine for a mind-boggling 37 strikeouts over 12.5 innings before the Braves finally managed to squeeze home a run in the bottom of the 13th inning and win a 1-0 snorefest that took almost five excruciating hours to play.
“A ball was put in play on average once every five minutes, 21 seconds, or the entire album version of Midnight Train to Georgia with another 43 seconds to spare,” is how Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci summed up the putridness. He then astonishingly went on to hail this protracted presentation of stubborn failure as being “packed with tension.”
The Chicago Cubs are a similarly styled MLB team. They also made the playoffs, where they were quickly eliminated after scoring one run in 18 innings in their home ballpark. That’s one more run than the hapless Reds scored in their two games. These two swing-from-your-heels “playoff” franchises combined to cross home plate once while striking out 44 times in 40 innings of post-season play. Can you imagine watching something like that in its entirety?
“We’re making this about what’s right. We’re standing up for what we believe is right,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said about the team’s BLM activism back in July, as MLB’s abbreviated season commenced. “We applaud our players for using their platform to speak out about systemic racism,” the team asserted at the time on its official Twitter account.
Rizzo went 0-8 with three strikeouts as his team fizzled out in the postseason. With more batting cage time and less politicized sloganeering, perhaps it would have been different.
It’s bad enough that players on the court and the diamond today want to inject politics into what should be relaxing entertainment for fans. But it’s even more untenable when the self-absorption is paired with a lack of performance that can be directly traced to the selfish mindset of professional athletes in our modern culture today.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.