All about the ratings: ESPN pimps LeBron/Durant and the LA Kings keep saying F***

Full-time jock sniffer and part-time SportsCenter host Stuart Scott thankfully was taken off the NBA on ESPN studio crew this year.

The NBA catches a lot of flak for its “superstar culture.”

The big names get all the calls. The big names call the shots as to where certain guys land in free agency. And when officiating seemingly gets out of control (and it always does), this culture that the NBA has labored for decades to create, is blamed.

But there is a definite method to the NBA’s madness, as seen by their record cable ratings this spring.
Like it or not, “superstars” saved the league in the early 1980s. One particular “superstar” brought in a decade of booming ratings in the 1990s. And the league has been seeking one or two “superstars” to once again provide the NBA with monster numbers on TV.

Well, those two superstars are now delivering in the postseason and David Stern and Co. are just raking in the green.

Tonight, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are set to tip off the most “superstar driven” Finals since Magic Johnson faced Michael Jordan in 1991.

It’s a TV producer’s dream and there’s certainly no way ESPN could screw it up.

Right?

Well, not entirely.

The NBA used to have magical, epic, Academy Award-worthy intros when NBC had the TV rights in the 1990s, but they just haven’t been able to re-create the glory in recent years.

Cartoon Network, which moonlights as ESPN, only wishes they could pull something like this off:
 

 
This isn’t to say all of ESPN’s NBA production is crap. I’m a big fan of their “Finals montage,” which hopefully we will see once again tonight:

 
 
 
Some may find this stuff corny, but it’s things like this truly adds to the moment for a sports fan. It sets the stage for unforgettable performance and links the past with the present.

ESPN obviously has its interest in other things as well as the NBA Finals (I’m sure those Euro2012 ratings in Oklahoma City are through the roof) and it’s a fine explanation for not going full-tilt with their NBA production. But the small things count and it’s why the NBA on NBC will always be king.

The theme music? No comparison. ESPN’s theme is just average when compared to John Tesh’s masterpiece (remember, Nelly made a remix of Roundball Rock back when Nelly was cool … what other sports theme can lay claim to once being the apple of a mainstream hip-hop artists’ eye?).
 
ESPN has been trying to make strides in the right direction. They mercifully jettisoned Stuart Scott from the studio crew, but then brought in rumor-monger Chris Broussard. A miniscule upgrade.
 
They decided against replacing Mark Jackson, who left to coach the Warriors, by instead just going with Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen (two of the best in the biz). Plus, we all know the three-man booth is just too much for a basketball game.
 
So the Worldwide Leader is taking baby steps. But it’s happening far too late.

They have had the TV rights to the NBA since 2003 and for a while treated telecasts with the same production values as its old 2 a.m. in July Strongman Competitions (huge fan of the truck/airplane pull!).
 
 
So will David Stern ever leave ESPN? Probably not. The network still doesn’t have any legit competitors in terms of providing 24/7 coverage. NBCSportsNetwork hasn’t exactly lit it up in the early-going and a FOX competitor is still up in the air. The current TV deal runs out in 2016. We can always hope.

The LA Kings win the F***ing Cup

Congrats to hockey hotbed Los Angeles for winning Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2012. It was an improbable run for an eight seed, so much so that their own players couldn’t believe it was f****ing happening. Not one, but two legit F-bombs in the span of 10 minutes on national TV. Only in the NHL. F*** YEAH!!!



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Class action against Facebook attracts 60,000 users

A law student said his class action suit against Facebook for alleged privacy violations has the support of 60,000 users and passed its first legal review.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Local

Mugger uses chokeholds in Central Park attacks: NYPD

Cops are searching for a Manhattan mugging suspect tied to at least two attacks near Central Park this week.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

Television

TV watch list, Thursday, Aug. 21: 'Simpsons,' 'Simpsons'…

It's time to change the channel to FXX, and then never change it again, as you watch all the "Simpsons" episodes you can handle.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…