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The Bubble Burst: What’s Next For LeBron James And The NBA After Historic Ratings Collapse?

LeBron James is supposed to be must-see TV. His whole career has been billed as the next Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Tiger Woods all rolled into one. He relocated to Hollywood not just to be the biggest attraction in sports, but also to rival the star power of DiCaprio, Denzel, Damon and Depp. So why didn’t anyone watch James’ latest blockbuster? On Sunday, he inched closer to Jordan, winning his fourth NBA title and fourth NBA Finals MVP. He did it while wearing the glitziest, star-making uniform in sports, a Los Angeles Lakers jersey. But when the Lakers beat the Miami Heat in Game 6 to win the title Sunday night, just 5.6 million people watched, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s less than one-third of the people who watched Game 6 last year between Golden State and Toronto.  In 1998, when Jordan won the title in a Game 6 on a Sunday night, 36 million people watched. In fact, the average episode of “The Last Dance,’’ the 10-episode ESPN documentary on Jordan’s final title run, averaged the same number of live viewers as the Lakers’ deciding game against the Heat. The Lakers-Heat series finished as the least-watched NBA […]

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Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.