The 2013-14 season has been a rough one for the Los Angeles Lakers.
With Kobe Bryant playing only six games between his Achilles injury and subsequent tibial fracture, Steve Nash missing plenty of time due to his unrelenting back issues and the rest of the roster resembling a patchwork bunch of misfits, that's not exactly surprising.
But more shocking is the extent to which this historically excellent franchise's popularity has plummeted.
The television ratings in particular, according to Rick Kissell of Variety.com, have been pathetic, especially when compared to last year's numbers:
Looking at Nielsen’s 'Live plus same-day' ratings for the 2013-14 season, the 57 telecasts of Lakers games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet have averaged 199,000 viewers — down a whopping 49% from last year at this time (390,000). The team has been without stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for just about all of the season, and has one of the worst records in basketball at 22-44 this season.
Lately, it's been even worse.
The last three outings have seen the Lakers draw an average of only 72,000 viewers, which Kissell reports is less than an eighth of what comparable games received last year. But it's not just TV ratings that show us how much the popularity of the Purple and Gold has declined.
How about these attendance figures?
|Year||Average Crowd||Average % Filled||Average Road % Filled|
That last column is perhaps the most telling. Sure, numbers in the Staples Center have dipped, but going to home games there is still appealing because attendance is a status symbol as well as an opportunity to view basketball.
Looking past the numbers within L.A., though, that's a drastic dip on the road.
Plus, a notable face has been missing from the sidelines on occasion.
Big time shout out to the tanned, Axe Body Wash bro in the pink/purple visor sitting next to Jack Nicholson's empty seat.— Robert Silverman (@BobSaietta) March 20, 2014
During the ESPN broadcast of the March 19 contest between L.A. and the San Antonio Spurs, the announcers noted that Jack Nicholson's seat was empty, something that has been happening with more frequency during this season.
Maybe he's waiting for the right moment, sitting back in the locker room so he can charge out while yelling, "Here's Johnny!" as a way of giving his team some much-needed momentum.
Or maybe he's just sick of watching the futile efforts of the Lake Show.
Apparently, a lot of people are.
Things will bounce back in the future, as the Lakers always find a way to reload rather than rebuild. But they've been pretty bad throughout the 2013-14 campaign, and there's no guarantee it will get any better during the upcoming offseason.
You know it's a terrible season when a passionate fanbase is essentially tuning the team out.