Ted Cruz & Mark Cuban Spar On Twitter Over NBA Finals TV Ratings Downturn

With TV ratings for the NBA Finals down about 20% from last year after three games, Sen. Ted Cruz and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have been feuding on Twitter over the cause of the downturn. See their exchange below.

The Texas Republican, replying to a tweet from Fox News host Sean Hannity about the ratings, wrote: “Not surprising. Personally speaking, this is the first time in years that I haven’t watched a single game in the NBA Finals. #GoWokeGoBroke.” Cuban, the billionaire internet entrepreneur who is also a longtime judge on Shark Tank, responded: “A US Senator with 3 @NBA teams in his state, employing thousands of people and he is rooting for their businesses to do poorly. This is who you are @tedcruz. Every minute of your life, this is exactly who you are.”

The two then traded jabs, with Cruz saying Cuban cares “more about Chinese money” than fans of his team. Cuban called Cruz “full of sh-t. … Since when is a desire to end racism offensive to anyone or political?”

Game 4 of the best-of-seven championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat is tonight on ABC. The metered-markets average of 10.1 through three games is down from 12.6 last year, though in terms of total viewers, the drop is 25%. The Toronto Raptors-Golden State Warriors matchup in June 2019 averaged 18 million viewers, compared with 13.4 million for the Lakers and Heat. The Lakers lead the series 2-1.

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Since the NBA season resumed after a four-month pause due to COVID-19, all games have been contested in a “bubble” setting at the ESPN Wide World of Sports facility just outside of Orlando. No fans are in attendance. The NBA playoffs, which have established themselves in the late spring, this year have had to go up against the start of the NFL season, baseball playoffs, and the U.S. Open and French Open tennis tournaments. The league over the past decade, though, has seen declining ratings. One factor in this year’s Finals is the presence of the Heat. While Miami is a major market, the team finished with the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference and lacks stars known to most TV viewers. The team also has some injury problems with its top players.

When the season resumed over the summer, the NBA made some accommodations for the protests against racial injustice that have rocked the country in recent months. “Black Lives Matter” was painted on the court and similar slogans were permitted to be worn on the backs of players’ jerseys.

Lakers star LeBron James and many other players have spoken out frequently in TV interviews during the end of the season and the playoffs. In August, players staged a brief strike in August after the fatal shootings of protesters in Kenosha, WI. James has long been a target of conservative commentators for his statements about current events and politics.

Here’s the exchange between Cruz and Cuban:

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