The National Basketball Association (NBA) has clearly seen an increase in “super teams.” Super teams consist of highly successful athletes joining forces to win championships. The ever popular super teams have not only raised ratings of the NBA finals, but ruined the competition in the series’ before. But super teams began to assemble years ago.
The first super team in the modern era (1999 to present day) were the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers already had superstars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, which did not stop them from reaching out to two future hall of famers: Karl Malone and Gary Payton. With both these men joining alongside O’Neal and Bryant, they seemed like a sure lock as champions. Unfortunately, a sexual assault on Bryant and the crippled knees of Malone resulted in a loss in the finals.
These finals were a battle between a scrappy, all-around Detroit Pistons team and the super team, ego infested Lakers. The series lasted five games, but saw exceptional ratings. According to statista, the average U.S. TV viewership for those finals reached 17.9 million. The highest until the 2010 NBA finals six years later.
In 2010, two storied franchises and rivals faced each other in an epic seven game series: The Boston Celtics vs. the Lakers. The Celtics assembled the first big three in the modern era by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen alongside Paul Pierce. In their first season together in 2008 they beat the Lakers in six games to win the title. Bryant and the Lakers set out to get revenge on the Celtics in 2010.
This storied rivalry brought about the highest NBA finals ratings in 10 years. A superteam with four all-stars against a tough squad with two all-stars. The series went all the way to seven games and on average was watched by 18.1 million viewers. A combination of two fantastic teams and one super team resulted in a drastic increase in views.
LeBron James redefined the meaning of super team, when he took his talents to South Beach with Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade. This super team kept NBA finals ratings consistent by never dropping below 16.8 million until 2015.
In 2015, James decided to go back to Cleveland and spark another super team, resulting in ratings skyrocketing once again. As James and the Cavaliers faced Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the finals, ratings shot up to 19.9 million (the highest since 1998.)
The Cavaliers and Warriors became a new rivalry in the NBA, and fans could not get enough.
The sequel in 2016 saw ratings jump to 20.2 million and third matchup in 2017 to 20.4 million. Two major super teams were included in this years’ NBA finals. Ratings rose and the decisive Game 5 averaged 24.5 million viewers, making it the most watched game five since 1998.
The numbers never lie. The NBA finals reach new heights in viewers whenever super teams are included. Super teams are fantastic for the NBA.