To put these numbers in perspective, the Golden State Warriors drew an average of 18.7 million viewers over the course of their last five trips to the NBA Finals, and an average of 10.6 percent of American households watched.
None of the Dubs’ Finals games cracked the top-three of the most-watched games in NBA Finals history either. But not so fast on crediting Jordan with the league’s ascension, according to former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who was speaking with ESPN 97.5 The Game after the first four episodes of The Last Dance.
McHale had the below to say:
“No Michael didn’t build this league, because I was in the league before it was built. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird built this league, along with David Stern. David Stern had an unbelievable vision for this league.
I’ll tell you what started the league. In 1979, Larry Bird played Magic Johnson when Indiana State played Michigan State, which is still one of the most watched NCAA Finals games ever. In 1980 Magic won the NBA title, in ’81 Bird wins it, in ’82 Magic wins it, in ’84 Bird wins it, in ’85 Magic wins it, in ’86 Bird wins it, in ’87 Magic wins it, and in ’88 Magic wins it.
That’s a decade of those two guys being in the prime of their careers and unbelievably pushing this league, along with David Stern, to heights that you haven’t seen. So this league did not start with Michael Jordan, let’s get that straight right away.”
Next: McHale takeaways