Miami Heat

Love him or not, South Florida is tuning into LeBron and the NBA Finals in big numbers

Cleveland forward LeBron James drives past Golden State Warriors guard Ian Clark during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland on Wednesday.
Cleveland forward LeBron James drives past Golden State Warriors guard Ian Clark during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland on Wednesday. AP

When the television ratings were unveiled for the first two games of the NBA Finals, the Cleveland and San Francisco markets were at the top of the heap.

South Florida’s spot was a bit of a surprise.

For the opener of the Finals, the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market placed fifth with a 15.8 metered rating behind the two markets involved in the game (as well as Columbus) and Memphis.

On Sunday, the South Florida market registered a 17.7 — good enough for fourth and first among markets without a team in the Finals.

So, what’s going on with a South Florida viewing public which usually doesn’t put up big numbers when it comes to sporting events?

It could be that the popularity of basketball has truly taken hold what with the success of not only the Heat, but the Miami Hurricanes as well.

One driving factor is probably LeBron James.

James, now in the Finals for the seventh consecutive season, is definitely a polarizing figure in South Florida.

And, whether you love him or not, it appears South Floridians are tuning in droves to see whether James can add to his championship haul.

Last year, Miami/Fort Lauderdale placed fourth in the ratings for Game 7 of the Finals, the game in which James took MVP honors by leading the Cavaliers to Cleveland’s first pro title since 1964.

dwade
Miami’s Dwyane Wade celebrates with LeBron James after the Heat defeated Oklahoma City 121-106 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 21, 2012. David Santiago el Nuevo Herald

James and the Heat were in the Finals all four years he was in Miami, with the Heat winning it twice in 2012-13 and losing to the Mavericks (2011) and Spurs (2014).

James left the Heat to go back to northeast Ohio following Miami’s loss to San Antonio leaving many fans bitter.

“I love basketball and want to see this series go seven games,” WQAM radio host Zach Krantz said Wednesday morning.

“I just don’t want to see LeBron James win it.”

Ratings for Wednesday’s Game 3 of the Finals — in which Golden State stayed unbeaten this postseason with a 118-113 victory — were not available as of Thursday morning.

James and the Cavaliers are down 3-0 to the Warriors in the best-of-7 series.

The Warriors will go for the perfect 16-0 sweep of these playoffs Friday at 9 p.m. from Cleveland on ABC-10.

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