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We Miss Dynasties! Why Parity Is Bad for the NBA… and Bettors

For the seventh straight season, we will crown new NBA champions. Whether the Boston Celtics finish the job or whether the Dallas Mavericks mount a comeback, it will be the seventh different team to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. And while this “era of parity” seems good from a competitive standpoint – or NBA betting, it’s not great in the long run.

Early reports indicate that this year’s NBA Finals is off to a poor start (Game 1 was a blowout). But if you look at recent ratings, it has not been great.

We Miss Dynasties! Why Parity Is Bad for the NBA… and Bettors
Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Ratings Don’t Lie: NBA Fans Don’t Care About Parity

We’ll get into the nitty gritty of what “ratings” mean in today’s world. But the optics are not good when the NBA Finals keep trending downward:

  • 2024: 5.7 million (Game 1)
  • 2023: 6.1 million (Average for series)
  • 2022: 6.6 million (Avg)
  • 2021: 5.2 million (Avg)
  • 2020: 4.0 million (Avg)
  • 2019: 8.8 million (Avg)

 

This is the average TV ratings for every NBA Finals series in the last six years, each of which had a different NBA champion. If we go back to the Warriors-Cavaliers saga, the ratings showed:

  • 2018: 10 million (Avg)
  • 2017: 11.3 million (Avg)
  • 2016: 11.4 million (Avg)
  • 2015: 9.3 million (Avg)

 

If we go a bit further back during the “Heatles” dynasty, the ratings were not too far off peaking at a 10.4 million average during 2013 to the lowest at 9.3 million in 2014. LeBron James’ “Big Three” Heat were in the NBA Finals for four straight years.

We can blame a lot of factors for this decline in ratings. Whether it’s the perceived decline in basketball quality the lack of marketing or just the general disinterest of fans. There are also non-basketball forces at hand such as “cord-cutting” (when people rely on streaming services instead of traditional cable) or a global pandemic.

 

But our favorite excuse is “parity” or the lack of dynasties in the NBA Finals. Casuals will only tune in to the NBA when they have a household name or team playing for the title.

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We Want to Cheer For or Against Dynasties

Whether you love them or hate them, dynasties are what make the NBA great. From the Warriors dynasty of the 2010s to Michael Jordan’s Bulls of the 1990s, these are some of the most popular teams. Most fans come into the league as a bandwagoner. And dynasties are what bring in bandwagoners.

As fun as it can be to see different teams in the NBA Finals, it makes it difficult for casual fans to follow. A dynasty gives fans a team to be invested in whether it is to love or hate. Fans either loved or hated the Warriors. Kevin Durant took it to the next level when he joined and formed a seemingly unbeatable team.

Therein is the other phenomenon with dynasties. An unstoppable team makes for must-watch basketball. It would be like an undefeated fighter like Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC. He and Conor McGregor fought in the main event of the promotion’s highest-selling pay-per-view. That’s no coincidence.

On top of that, juggernauts also tend to produce the highest level of basketball. The Warriors had teams like the Clippers or Celtics building to beat them. Others like Phil Jackson, the head coach of the Lakers and Bulls dynasties still have disciples in the league today.

In this era of parity, we have many “very good” teams exchanging titles. The Nuggets and Bucks were close to being one but fell short. The Warriors won another title without Durant but have quickly fallen into mediocrity. And LeBron James’s Lakers proved to be a one-and-done title team.

Fallible teams, no matter how excellent, just don’t have the same appeal as a dynasty. After all, bandwagoners only care about winning. And parity indicates there will not be any consistent winning. But as far as the bright side, this can prove to be lucrative for online betting fans… Nobody misses seeing Golden State at +100 betting odds to win the title.

 

 

Questions Of The Day

What is the last NBA team to win consecutive championships?


The Golden State Warriors were the last NBA team to win consecutive titles, which it did in 2017 and 2018.

Which NBA team has made the most NBA Finals?


As of 2024, the Los Angeles Lakers hold the record for most NBA Finals appearances with 32. It last made the Finals in 2020.

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