New Orleans’ comeback win was the top NBA game of a weekend that included the league’s highest profile teams. The previous night, Heat-Lakers drew a 1.3 and 2.20 million on ABC’s NBA Saturday Primetime — up 18% and 29% respectively from the same weekend last year (Sixers-Bucks: 1.1, 1.71M). On ESPN Sunday night, Nets-Clippers drew a 0.9 and 1.51 million.
April 21, 2021 | 2:28 am EDT Update
Chris Haynes: Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard (right hamstring tendinopathy) plans to return Wednesday against Denver Nuggets after missing last three games, league sources tell @YahooSports .
Naturally, Knicks fans went into a frenzy trying to decipher the young All Star’s comments. ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski did his best to explain that Williamson’s answer is “something to watch” over the next the few years. “I think it’s something to watch down the road,” Wojnarowski told Mike Greenberg in an appearance on Get Up! on Monday. “I think if you follow Zion Williamson closely, he doesn’t just talk to talk. He’s pretty particularl with what he says and when he says it… Listen, he’s a long way away from free agency. He’s only in his second year in the NBA. But, I think with the way that the Knicks have been rejuvenated, the success you’re seeing them have here in the short term anyway, I don’t think it was completely by accident… I think we all know with New York, if you have a competent product on the floor, if that team is run well, Madison Square Garden and New York is a place that players should want to play. We’ll see how New York is able to carry that forward to a time where it’s a more timely conversation with players like Zion Williamson.”
You can look it up: Randle is on pace to become the first N.B.A. player to enter a season with a 3-point success rate below 30 percent (on more than 500 attempts) and then shoot 40 percent or better on 3s (with a minimum of 150 attempts), according to research from the noted statistical expert Justin Kubatko.
Johnny Juzang is about to find out how much his NCAA tournament scoring spree boosted his professional stock. The UCLA sophomore guard announced on social media Tuesday that he would declare for the NBA draft while retaining his college eligibility, preserving his ability to return for one more college season. “For many years, I’ve dreamt about playing professional basketball,” Juzang wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “But the journey to get to this point has truly been the beautiful part, crossing paths with such great people: coaches, mentors, and brothers. I’m proud to announce that I’m declaring for the NBA Draft, while retaining my collegiate eligibility.”
Stephen Curry’s recent hot streak is moving the NBA ratings needle. Warriors-Celtics averaged a 1.4 rating and 2.49 million viewers on ABC’s NBA Saturday Primetime over the weekend, the highest rated and most-watched NBA telecast — outside of the All-Star Game — since Nets-Warriors on February 13 (1.5, 2.56M). Boston’s narrow win, which saw Curry score 47 points in defeat, delivered the ninth-largest audience of the season. Golden State has played in five of the top ten games — more than any other team, including the Lakers (four).
Instead they were Nike’s line of Kobe Bryant’s signature sneakers, which were worn by 103 players last season — about 20 percent of the league’s players — according to the sneaker website Baller Shoes DB. Many W.N.B.A. players, like the Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd, also wear Bryant’s signature sneakers. But soon those players will need to find new shoes, at least if they want to play in brand-new pairs. Nike confirmed Monday that its contract with the estate of Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash last year, expired last week. “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” a Nike spokesman, Josh Benedek, said in a statement. “He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”
Nike has a short window in which it can continue selling the shoes and apparel featuring Bryant that it has already manufactured, but soon that merchandise will disappear from Nike’s website and store shelves. Switching shoe companies is not uncommon for top basketball players, whose sneaker contracts can pay tens of millions of dollars annually and rival or even exceed their N.B.A. contracts in value. Bryant signed with Adidas before he entered the N.B.A., in 1996, then signed with Nike in 2003 after his Adidas deal ended. Even as some major sponsors dropped Bryant when he was accused of sexual assault, Nike, which had signed Bryant shortly before he was arrested, stood by him.