The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat on Sunday night to win their 17th championship in franchise history.
On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to react to the occasion.
Viewership for NBA Finals Finale Crash Nearly 70%, Beaten by Random Sunday Night Football Game https://t.co/RaDVRSE4ww via @BreitbartNews Maybe they were watching in China, but I doubt it. Zero interest!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2020
Rather than congratulate the Lakers, President Trump tweeted out an article reporting on just how horrible TV ratings for the NBA have been throughout the playoffs.
“Maybe they were watching in China, but I doubt it. Zero interest,” he wrote.
Sunday’s airing of the NBA Finals garnered a peak of 6.028 million viewers – a 70 percent decline from last year’s Finals match-up between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors. That outing drew 18.34 million viewers.
A largely meaningless Sunday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings drew twice as many viewers as the clinching game of the NBA Finals – 12.008 million.
And it’s not just TV ratings. Overall interest in basketball has been plummeting over the course of the entire postseason. A intriguing study done on Reddit breaks down just how substantially the chatter around Finals games has fallen on the r/NBA subreddit, despite its size having grown from 400,000 users in 2016 to 3.6 million in 2020.
President Trump and the NBA have been lobbing shots back and forth at one another for months now.
“It’s terrible,” Trump said of the league a few months back.
“I think what they’re doing to the NBA in particular is going to destroy basketball. I can’t – I don’t even watch it. … You know when you watch sports, you want to sort of relax, but this is a whole different world. … You don’t want to stay in politics. You want to relax.”
He even went so far as to say that the league should serve as a cautionary tale for other sports.
“It’s very bad for the NBA and it’s going to prove to be very bad for football,” the President added.
“It’s going to be very bad for football and I think it’s very bad for the NBA. Maybe even NBA threatening. And it’s going to be very bad for baseball if they don’t get smarter.”
When the ratings ultimately did drop, President Trump did a victory lap.
“The kneeling (during the national anthem) has been horrible for basketball,” he said.
“They’ve had horrible ratings, low numbers. People are angry about it. They have enough politics with guys like me. There was a nastiness about the NBA the way (protesting) was done. The NBA is in trouble, bigger trouble than they understand.”
Not everyone agreed, though. Lakers star LeBron James came out and said the league would not miss President Trump’s viewership.
“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership,” he said.
What a year. https://t.co/aXauCkoKLW
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 10, 2020
Back in September, a Harris Poll tried to get to the bottom of the NBA’s ratings woes. The group reached out to almost 2,000 people and gave them 10 choices to select from regarding why they are tuning out the NBA.
“The league has become too political” earned the most votes, and “China” came in third place.
Gotta love Rajon Rondo. https://t.co/8Y42wsYeS1
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 12, 2020
In second place, respondents voted that the games were “boring without fans.”
While this lingering feud between President Trump and the NBA isn’t going to die down any time soon, it’s hard to argue with the substance of what he keeps saying. The NBA’s ratings are in trouble – and something will need to be done to address that.