Josh Lewenberg: VanVleet, after thanking the Raptors organization, his coaches, teammates and family: “I wanna give thanks to you ugly media people who have treated me pretty good over the last 4 years. Now that I’ve got a nice big contract don’t start s***ing on me.”
Last week, the NBA had one of the busiest weeks in league history—with the draft and free agency just two days apart. “That was one of the craziest weeks ever,” Charania says. “Everything goes up, but that is by nature. The conversations and the people you communicate with, those are the same, but the volume of dialogue slightly increases. “On a normal basis,” he continues, “it might be more sporadic and the topics are more different than around free agency and the draft because these are things that are imminently happening.”
When speaking to people around the NBA about Shams, another common theme is that he doesn’t have any hidden agendas. “Shams called me out of the blue one day, asking about a player I represented and his free-agent destination,” one NBA agent tells SLAM. “At first, I was hesitant because I had no prior relationship with him, but the way he approached the situation was nothing short of professional. He ended up breaking my player’s signing. “I trust him because there are no hidden agendas. He’s just trying to break the story; he’s not worried about doing favors. He’s genuine and straightforward with his approach, which is rare in this business.”
The NBA Draft was just the latest sporting event to take a hit in the ratings. Wednesday’s NBA Draft averaged 2.13 million viewers across ESPN and ESPNU, down 31% from both last year (3.09M) and 2018 (3.07M) and the smallest audience for the event since at least 2007. Figures do not include the 82,000 who watched coverage on NBA TV.
The first round of the draft averaged 2.65 million — ESPN’s top NBA audience in the month of November since 2018 — and ranked second for the night in adults 18-49 and 18-34 behind “The Masked Singer” on FOX. The steep decline and multi-year low for the NBA Draft is in keeping with the broader trend facing the sports media industry. The NBA Finals, World Series, Stanley Cup Final, final rounds of the Masters and U.S. Open — and more — have hit historic lows since the wave of cancellations and postponements in March.