The NBA’s Final Four Is Good For Basketball No Matter What the Ratings Say
The final four of the NBA does not feature one of the premier franchises in basketball. No LeBron. No Steph. No KD. None of those players will be playing in the final two rounds of the playoffs. Rather, the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trae Young, Chris Paul/Devin Booker, and Paul George will all be there instead. Kawhi Leonard might join the party too, but who knows what Kawhi’s injury status will be for the rest of the series. Many people today will likely wring their hands at the potential rating nightmare for the league. And while that might true, this is the best thing that can happen to basketball in some time.
NBA gets a real shot at expanding their brand and not playing the regular hits. This adds more curiosity and excitement to the playoffs versus the expected outcome. Sure I am biased, but there is a feeling of newness that has not been in the NBA for quite some time. It feels similar to the 1994 season when no one knew who would emerge after Michael Jordan’s retirement. There was the New York Knicks, who had been on the doorstep for a while. Houston Rockets with one of the more underrated players at the time. A Suns team that had been to the NBA Finals a year before. An up-and-coming Indiana Pacers team. There are similar vibes here.
But what this year’s version doesn’t have is the Knicks. They were a major market team with a huge public reach. That isn’t really there for any of these teams. But the league needs to do a good job at selling this to the casual fan. Build up Young being a 22-year-old kid ready to take center stage. Or maybe for once actually promote Giannis like the MVP that he is. Chris Paul’s Susan Lucci moment is worth celebrating too. Devin Booker becoming a top 20, if not top 10, player should draw attention. And maybe throw in he’s dating Kendall Jenner for the casuals.
If the league allows themselves to get dunked on by people talking negatively about this final four, they’re going to crash and burn. They need to pump this final four up as much as they can.