NBA fans are still arguing over which of last night's season-ending NBA games was more thrilling: the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors’ record setting 73rd regular season win over the Memphis Grizzlies, or Kobe Bryant’s spectacular 60-point performance in his final NBA game.
Not up for debate is the fact that ESPN was a big ratings winner in arguably the most exciting final night of any NBA regular season in recent memory. The 24-hour sports network carried both games – Golden State-Memphis on ESPN and Los Angeles Lakers-Utah Jazz on ESPN2 – and drew more than 7 million viewers combined for games that began at 10:30 p.m. on the East Coast.
Golden State's win over Memphis, led by Curry’s remarkable 46 point effort – which included 10 three-pointers, giving Curry an unfathomable record of 402 three-pointers for the season – drew 3.6 million viewers last night according to Nielsen.
Bryant’s final pro game proved to be one for the ages, and an average of 3.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the Black Mamba ride off into the sunset in grand fashion, singlehandedly leading his Lakers to victory for the last time.
TNT, ESPN, NBA TV and ABC are all hoping the positive momentum generated from Wednesday's late-night games will translate into strong ratings performances for the first round of the NBA playoffs, which begin on Saturday.