With the superstar playing in the NBA Finals and on the verge of another championship, the lack of viewership has become a major talking point. Many have pointed at the NBA’s decision to embrace social justice as a reason the ratings have slipped but it could be due to many factors.
On Friday, Trump blamed James for the poor ratings and went after the Lakers star.
“He’s a great basketball player, but people don’t want to see a guy that’s that way. They don’t want to see that. … He’s a hater,” Trump said on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, via Matt Viser. “You don’t want to sit down, watch a basketball game, and then watch somebody that hates your guts, okay.”
This is far from the first time that the President has gone after James. Back in 2018, he suggested the basketball player wasn’t very smart.
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
However, James hasn’t stayed quiet in the past.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
James Has Taken Shots at the President Before
James is among the most outspoken athletes around and he’s been very critical of Trump in the past. Prior to the start of the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the President said that he wouldn’t be watching because of the decision to embrace social justice causes such as Black Lives Matter. James clapped back at those comments.
“I really don’t think the basketball community is sad about losing his viewership,” James said. “The game will go on without his eyes on it.”
James hasn’t been shy about supporting Trump’s Democrat opponent in the upcoming election, Joe Biden. He also supported Hilary Clinton last go around. There’s clearly a lot of animosity between the two men and it’s unlikely the Lakers visit the White House should they win the title if Trump is still in office.
Adam Silver Surprised at Low NBA Ratings: Report
Whether it’s because of politics or not, the NBA does have a ratings problems on their hands and it’s something they need to figure out. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, NBA commissioner Adam Silver did not expect the rating to take such a big hit during the NBA Finals:
According to sources, commissioner Adam Silver still is surprised at the low audience with LeBron James chasing his fourth title at age 35. Silver is aiming for next year’s NBA Finals to not compete in the crowded sports month of October.
Silver has made general comments that could signal a belief the emphasis on Black Lives Matter has resulted in a ratings fall.
The NBA has the Lakers in the Finals and they arguably have the biggest brand of any basketball team in the country. They also have big stars in Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis and LeBron James playing. All those factors would seem to lead to success. However, the series hasn’t been very competitive and the lack of fans certainly dampens the excitement of each game. Plus, competing with the NFL for ratings is never a recipe for success.