Emphasis on Team Play Boosts Playoff Ratings

TNT and ESPN/ABC are getting amazing ratings for the Playoffs this year and a lot of people (including myself) are wondering why. Sure having the Lakers and Celtics playing helps, but the numbers the Association has been pulling in are astronomical. TNT's game 4 of the Spurs-Lakers series pulled 5,394,000 households, up 49% compared to the network's coverage of game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It can't just be the teams involved, can it? There has to be some other reason that we're missing. ↵

↵FOX's Jason Whitlock thinks he's found the missing link. Tattoos -- or a lack thereof -- have to be the reason (well, sort of): ↵

↵
↵⇥"David Stern has been arguing that the NBA is the best book. Ever since Ron Artest went into the stands, Stern has been slowly changing the cover of his book. The dress code and the age limit have helped. The midseason trades helped. Garnett's donning of a Celtics jersey really helped. Kobe's maturity and ascension to Jordan's throne has probably been the most important development. Kobe is everything the league wants LeBron James to be. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥But don't underestimate how much having a visually pleasing product to look at has benefited the league at conference finals time. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥It's a television show. Pleasant smiles, non-threatening people sell products better than menacing, tattooed brutes." ↵
↵You might be saying to yourself that this can't be the case, but the more and more you think about it, the more and more it makes sense. Stern has spent the past few off-seasons taking headlines away from the NFL and MLB with age limits and dress codes. Each of those decisions has made the NBA go from an egotistical, individualistic game to a team game. ↵

↵ ↵Instead of talking about Kobe going for 50 and trying to take out teams by himself, we're talking about the Lakers as a collective unit and how well their bench players have been playing. We're not talking about Shaq dominating teams with his size, but rather the Celtics' three elder statesmen on the verge of making the NBA Finals with a group of recent draft picks and PJ Brown. The Pistons and Spurs are the epitome of the word "team" and now with four "teams" in the Conference Finals, people are enjoying the NBA again. ↵

↵

↵Everyone seems now to be copying the Spurs' model of success and while crediting a lack of tattoos might be a bit of a stretch, it’s certainly not out of the question. Appearances are everything. And the appearance of a team game is obviously better for the league. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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