If The NBA Knows What's Good For Itself, It'll Keep The Spurs Out Of The Finals
I'm not going to lie. I'm a card-carrying Spurs hater and there's nothing I'd like to see more than this team not make the Finals. But you know what, the NBA should be thinking the exact same thing.
And there's a pretty simple reason for this. No one in their right mind wants to watch the Spurs play basketball. Think I'm lying? Well, let's look at the data.
Last year's NBA Finals featuring the Cavs and the Spurs drew the worst rating in NBA Finals history with a 6.2 rating. The natural thing to attribute this to is the fact that both teams are from small markets. That's a total cop out. The Spurs were 3-time NBA Champions who hadn't had a poor season since Duncan arrived in town - making them hardly an unknown team - and the Cavs spent more time on network TV than any team thanks to LeBron. Yet even though this series was a 4-game sweep by the Spurs, this series was headed for record lows right from the opening tip. Both games 1 and 2, when the series wasn't even close to over, were hardly watched by anyone as the market shares were abysmal. The reason was that the Spurs were playing more than anything else.
But you might not be convinced it was primarily the Spurs that made the 2007 Finals suck. That's fine. We'll just go back to the 2003 NBA Finals which had San Antonio facing New Jersey. New Jersey isn't a small market team at all. Yet this final drew the second worst rating in NBA Finals history with a 6.5 rating. And this series was actually pretty close. San Antonio and New Jersey split the first four games. Generally speaking, when a series goes 6 or 7 games, the ratings improve quite a bit. Not in this series. This series was also David Robinson's exit from the game, and no cared. Interestingly, this was also the first final that featured Parker, Duncan, Ginobili and Bowen. It's almost like the audience knew how boring this team was going to be before it even happened.
And then there's the 2005 Finals which featured San Antonio and Detroit. This was the sixth worst rated finals in NBA history, and the third worst rated finals since 1982. On Tuesday, June 7, 2005, the night after Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Pistons and Miami Heat, SportsCenter even went as far as to air a segment between host Dan Patrick and analyst Ric Bucher going over the reasons why sports fans should even tune into the series. Sure you can blame both teams here for being boring, but that just further cements the fact that the Spurs never bring anything to the table whatsoever. In fact, judging by the 2003 and 2007 Finals, the only reason this final didn't get worse ratings was BECAUSE Detroit was in it.
The other important thing to mention is that both the Pistons and Nets played in other NBA Finals that got significantly better ratings. Both of those finals were against the Lakers, so naturally there's reason for a bump in ratings. But here's the more interesting thing. Both of those finals weren't exciting at all. The Nets lost 4-0 to the Lakers in 2002 and the Pistons beat the Lakers 4-1 in 2004. Yet despite those two crappy finals, ratings were dramatically higher than the much more closely contested finals by both teams against San Antonio.
The end result here is that while you can make some excuses if you want, since the main core of this Spurs team was assembled - Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Bowen - and played in a final, they've killed ratings. It's no coincidence that this team has played in two of the worst rated finals in NBA history and the three worst rated finals since 1982. No one likes watching this team play.
That's due to a number of things. The whole team whines, their coach is annoying, Duncan is boring as hell, Ginobili is the biggest flopper since Vlade Divac, Bowen's the dirtiest player the league has had in years, Parker's French, and I'd even throw Robert Horry into the equation at this point in time. People don't like the fact that he has more rings than Jordan, and has a habit of cheap shotting people in the playoffs.
But most importantly, their poor ratings have nothing to do with the fact that they play in a small market anymore. This team has won 4 NBA titles in under a decade and has been on national TV as much as any other team. Cut the small market crap. They aren't the Charlotte Bobcats. People everywhere know this team, and they hate watching them.
Whatever it takes, the NBA needs to prevent the Spurs from reaching the Finals. If that means Joey Crawford refs every one of their games so be it.
Because even though the league desperately needs a Lakers/Celtics final, a Lakers/Pistons final wouldn't be the end of the world.
But any final with the Spurs, even if it's against the Celtics, would be.