ESPN Concludes Eastern Conference Finals With Yet Another Ratings Record
ESPN for the third time this postseason set a record rating for an NBA game on cable after scoring a 9.1 overnight Nielsen rating for Saturday night’s Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals Game Seven. All three records were set times during Heat-Celtics. Saturday's telecast peaked from 10:45-11:00pm ET with an 11.9 rating. The game earned a 21.7 local rating in Boston, which is the best number ever for an NBA game on cable TV in the market. The 25.0 local rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale was ESPN’s best NBA figure ever in the market (third-best NBA game on all of cable TV) (ESPN).
BLOWING THE WHISTLE: SI.com’s Richard Deitsch wrote former NBA referee Steve Javie has been “hired by ESPN as a rules analyst for pregame and postgame coverage of the NBA Finals, as well as ‘SportsCenter.’” Javie “hopes to follow in the footsteps” of former NFL VP/Officiating Mike Pereira, who now explains rules during Fox' NFL broadcasts. Javie said that Pereira's success “inspired him to pitch ESPN on a similar position months ago.” ESPN Senior VP/Talent Development & Planning Laurie Orlando “reached out to Javie to do a segment on ‘SportsCenter’ on the officiating of the Heat-Celtics series.” Network officials were “pleased with what they saw and have now invited him to work the NBA Finals.” Javie said, “I'm hoping for positive feedback because I believe it's something that's been missing. I hope people come away and say, ‘Boy, I didn't even look at it that way, and I never knew that.’” He added, “I'm not going to be a jerk about it because these are my guys. But I want to be the voice of the official and tell people, ‘Look at this play. Maybe you should have had a whistle here, but here is the reason why they didn't blow it’” (SI.com, 6/10).
NOT VERY MAGICAL: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote NBA Commissioner David Stern “should actually swap out" ESPN's "Kia NBA Countdown" pregame show for TNT's "Inside The NBA." Even with the "inconsistent, semi-horrendous performances by Shaquille O’Neal, the rest of the cast -- Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson Jr. and Charles Barkley -- combines to form the best studio show, in any sport.” The ESPN studio offering, featuring Magic Johnson, Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon and Chris Broussard, “suffers because it doesn’t have a legit host to play traffic cop.” ESPN has tried to make Johnson "its go-to guy,” but he "blows stale air while relating most everything to himself and his playing days” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/10). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes the “good news about ABC carrying the NBA Finals is we get to listen to game analyst Jeff Van Gundy.” The “bad news is we don't get to hear” Barkley (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/11).