Were basketball fans turned off by the 2017 NBA Finals, which matched up the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers for a third straight year? According to the ratings, no.
In fact, the series was the NBA’s best rated finals since 1998 when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls capped off their 1990’s dynasty with a six-game win over the Utah Jazz.
Cavs-Warriors Finals = most watched NBA Finals since 1998, per Nielsen. Five games averaged 20.8M viewers with peak of 29.5M on Monday.
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) June 13, 2017
Seven of the Finals between 1998 and 2017 included one of the NBA’s glamour franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers. Two of them re-ignited one of the NBA’s best rivalries when the Lakers matched up against the Boston Celtics in 2008 and 2010. Also included in that run were four seven-game series (2005, 2010, 2013, 2016), with the latter two being two of the best NBA Finals series ever played.
The fact that 2017’s topped all of those in the ratings is telling.
This certainly goes to show that while often complained about, dominant teams or “super teams” aren’t really a bad thing for the league. Heck, even LeBron James thinks they’re great for the league, and he just lost to one of the most imposing we’ve ever seen.
The dominance that the Warriors and Cavaliers displayed didn’t make for a terribly exciting season or playoffs. That’s undeniable. Even the NBA Finals was relatively anti-climatic, with Golden State’s 3-0 lead creating a sense of inevitability. Although Cleveland’s comeback in 2016 did create more drama than would normally exist in that situation.
But when you have a championship series that puts seven All-Stars on the floor, including three men who have won each of the last five and seven of the last eight MVP awards (though that will change in 2017), people are going to watch.
Familiarity may breed contempt. But it also breeds a lot of interest from the general public.