An anonymous NBA agent ripped the NBA for embracing the Black Lives Matter movement during the NBA bubble.
The anonymous agent told The Athletic:
“They initially did a great job by putting the bubble together and they completely shit the bed with all this nonsense. They really hurt the business … All of this Black Lives Matter stuff … I think that the players are being manipulated into something that they don’t really understand and I think it’s a horrible look for the league and they need to be very clear about the organization, what they stand for … If that’s what the NBA wants to align with, they’re really hurting themselves … They’re not helping the players, they’re hurting the sport. When the ratings are down 30%, who are you helping?”
As fans of the NBA likely know, the league and its players put the movement at the Orlando bubble’s forefront. Each court featured words reading, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and most players kneeled during the National Anthem to protest police brutality. Many people involved with the NBA supported that move, but there were exceptions, as told by the anonymous agent.
It’s unclear what had the biggest impact on the NBA’s ratings taking a hit during the bubble. The agent attributes the cause to the NBA showing support for Black Lives Matter. Some have agreed with this argument, but it’s far from the only factor that impacted lower ratings.
Several unique scenarios hadn’t existed in past NBA postseasons. Most obviously, the ongoing MLB playoffs and NFL regular season drew viewers away. More and more fans continued to view games through illegal streams. Additionally, the idea of watching a game with no fans in an irregular arena was a tough product to sell.
So while there’s a chance that the NBA’s social justice theme hurt ratings, it’s wrong to put the entire blame on it. Perhaps we’ll get a better understanding next season if the other aforementioned factors return to normal. But either way, most players likely felt that showing solidarity for a cause is more important than high viewership.