If the 2008 NBA Finals were something of a coup for the NBA-helping fans (kind of) move past the awful black eye the Tim Donaghy betting scandal left on the game-then the 2009 Playoffs were a full on tour de force thanks to a dynamic crop of young developing stars, a string of compelling matchups, and some old fashioned ‘80s era nastiness.
On cable, the league set records for most-watched first round (Game 7 of the epic Celtics/Bulls matchup) and second round (Game 7 of the Celtics/Magic series) games.
The storylines were relentless: Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo emerged as two of the best young point guards in the league, Kobe Bryant finally won his Shaq-less ring, Mark Cuban got into a confrontation with an opposing player’s mother, and MTV VJ La La Vasquez (fiance of Nugget’s star Carmelo Anthony) was ushered out of American Airlines Center in Dallas after a verbal altercation with Mavs fans. Good stuff.
The only let down may have been that many NBA fans (and advertisers) didn’t get their dream LeBron James vs. Kobe Finals matchup but it may still come. The Lakers are a team built to contend for a number of years and you can bet it isn’t just that LeBron Nike puppet that’s upset about not making the Finals this year. And there are already rumors bubbling about Shaquille O’Neal joining forces with James in Cleveland. Think an NBA Finals pitting LeBron and Shaq against Kobe would be a ratings bonanza for the league?
Plus, with the Magic losing in five games (quick digression: Why on Earth did Stan van Gundy give Jameer Nelson 18 minutes a night after not appearing in an NBA game for four months?!?) we don’t have to listen to Jeff van Gundy announcing anymore while his brother coaches the Magic twenty feet away. ABC apparently didn’t find it prudent to follow the Bret Boone Law of Objective Sports Broadcasting: If someone from your direct bloodline is an active participant in the sporting event you are announcing, you are officially in the tank.
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