Despite Kobe Bryant missing out on the NBA playoffs, the opening game of the Los Angeles Lakers' first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs achieved the highest rating for any opening weekend game since 2003, according to Sports Business Daily.
Los Angeles' 91-79 loss to San Antonio was never particularly competitive, and the Lakers are both without Bryant and in a disadvantageous position as the seventh seed in the Western Conference, so it is a bit surprising to see the positive ratings.
The game pulled a 4.6 overnight rating, tying the first game of the Lakers-New Orleans Hornets series from 2011 but coming well short of the 5.1 rating between the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves from back in 2003.
It's hard to imagine that the Spurs played a huge part in the ratings boon, especially considering the fact that they were involved in two of the lowest-rated NBA Finals in the history of the Neilsen ratings service, first in 2003, and then again in 2007.
Many factors likely contributed to the high ratings. Los Angeles' game was the only one aired on ABC on Sunday and had an advantageous afternoon spot with nothing but early-season baseball and NASCAR to compete with.
Los Angeles' low position on the playoff totem pole could have had a bit to do with it as well. I'm sure that once Lakers fans got a look at how things were going, they decided to call around and make sure everybody else was watching. You don't want to miss out on the historic ending to the season where the Lakers made a roaring finish to fizzle against the Spurs in the playoffs.
Kidding aside, it's obvious that Los Angeles continues to be a huge draw, regardless of who is on the roster.