NBA Finals, ESPN Unappealing to Outside Fans?

July 4th 2016. Kevin Durant announced his decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors. From that point on it almost felt like a given that the 2017 NBA Finals would consist of the same two teams for the third straight season. It was talked about everywhere and you couldn’t get away from it. Fast forward almost a year later and here we are. Durant’s Warriors (yes its been his team so far this series) have another commanding 3-1 series lead heading back to Golden State.

When the Cleveland Cavalier knocked off the Celtics in Game 5, the entire basketball world felt a feeling of “finally” set over them. Round three was upon us, and for anyone who watches the NBA, it was something to look forward to. But what about for those who aren’t NBA enthusiasts? How are the NBA Finals perceived by those who don’t consider basketball their first, second or even third favorite sport?

“The level of basketball is unparalleled but the coverage is intolerable,” is one answer I got when I posed the question to several non-basketball fans. That answer might be spot on. There’s no denying this is one of the most talented NBA Finals in the history of the league. Seven of the ten starters in these Finals are All-Stars; three have been league MVPs. For a basketball outsider, this should be the series that draws them in, but does it?

“‘Cleveland can’t play at this pace’ is a phrase I feel I’m hearing a lot. It feels uneven.” was another response given on the Finals. Imagine knowing the very minimum about the sport of basketball. You turn on the TV and see Lebron James, who you know is the best player in the world, down 20 points and sitting on the bench as the final seconds tick down on a game. Why would anyone want to watch a series where the best player in the world is getting dominated by a super team? Yes, the series is far from over and yes, Cleveland defied the odds last year coming back from 3-1 so you cannot count them out. But it’s not going to go a long way in bringing in new fans.

And for those who have no interest in the Finals at all? They’re stuck with 24/7 coverage whether they like it or not. “80% of ESPN’s posts are about the Finals. It’s a huge deal, but other sports don’t stop their seasons for Lebron James.” 

Steph might have double-dribbled on that sequence against LeBron

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The Finals combined with the NBA Draft probably makes June the biggest month for the NBA all season. If there’s a time to over-cover the sport, it’s certainly now. But for those who come to ESPN, the “world-wide leader of sports” for other sports, the constant NBA attention is unappealing. Does the world need to be reminded that Steph Curry double-dribbled in a blow out game? Probably not. In the eyes of a non-basketball fan? Definitely not.

Let’s get one thing straight, the 2017 NBA Finals is a gift. The odds of seeing this much talent on the floor at once is rare and the excitement and play is awesome if you love the game of basketball, like most people reading do. But it is interesting to step back and see the perspective of those who don’t live within the 94 feet of a basketball court. Bring on Game 5.

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