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Raissman: Long delay before NBA Finals is brutal

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John Bazemore/AP

The long wait for the NBA Finals just means more nauseating LeBron James legacy storylines for an extra week.

With time to kill between its championship games and the Super Bowl, the NFL presented DeflateGate, a story America was glued to. With nine days to kill between its conference championships and Cavs-Warriors finals the NBA presents Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

That’s right. With all those videos of little Riley Curry, along with repetitive LeBron James storylines being shoved down our collective throats — over and over and over again — this extended “buildup” to the NBA Finals is a nuisance, a total bore — brutal.

Granted, the NFL has date certainty when it comes to that week of mega hype leading up to its grand finale. And no one could have predicted DeflateGate, and the number of casual eyeballs it converted, eyeballs that hustled on the Super Bowl bandwagon, sending NBC’s ratings into the stratosphere.

We have been led to believe NBA suits are marketing magicians. When it comes to leadership, well, the NBA has the finest in all of sports, right? Of course we know the NBA’s TV partners (in this case ESPN/ABC, home of the NBA Finals) do a swell job with their coverage. Just ask them.

Yet with all this apparent brain power, artistry, and business acumen, common sense and compassion has not prevailed. See, if its much celebrated commissioner Adam Silver had a heart, he would have put us out of our misery by starting this NBA Finals Monday or, at the latest, Tuesday. Instead, the wait continues — until Thursday.

Misery? Yes, misery.

Misery is listening to assorted Gasbags (especially on ESPN TV/Radio) debating if this series will “define or impact” LeBron James’ legacy. This just in: When James’ ultimate legacy (or anyone elses for that matter) is written, he will have passed on, so he won’t even know how his legacy is ultimately presented — a legacy so many other mouths are obsessed with.

Misery is listening to defacto doctors debates about whether Kyrie Irving’s injured knee will be 80, 90, or 100% once the series finally starts.

Misery is another discussion about whether James and Stephen Curry leading their teams makes this the most anticipated NBA Finals since the last time Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off.

Misery is hearing, once again, how well ESPN’s Brian Windhorst knows King James.

Misery is more speculation on who will emerge as James’ sidekick in this series. Or which LBJ run to the finals with the Cavs is more impressive, this one or 2007? And when things calm down they can always make ANOTHER comparison between James (“Is he the best we’ve ever seen”) and Michael Jordan.

Or speculate on David Blatt’s future with the team. Or who deserves credit for the Warriors’ success, Steve Kerr or Mark Jackson? No need to continue. For you might find reading this column to be a miserable experience, too.

There will be even more time to analyze, dissect, and scrutinize every molecular movement of this series once it starts. If it ever does. If it goes seven games, it will take 16 days to play.

The big chill is for the benefit of ESPN/ABC. The games are being played on nights of high viewership. For example, after Game 1 Thursday night, Game 2 won’t be played until Sunday (June 7) in order to avoid playing either Friday or Saturday, low viewership nights.

Even the NBA’s official spin on the long layoff until the opener, which pats the league on the back for allowing the players to “rest and get healthy” (no mention of rust), cited TV as a factor. League suits decided a few years ago to “lock in a start date” because of TV, the league’s digital partners and “215 countries and territories airing the games.”

Is there a Valley of the Stupid in France? Or an ESPN Italia?

Anyway, once things get started it won’t take long to figure out if the layoff messed with momentum. It won’t be hard to figure out if the waiting game will have a negative effect on ABC’s ratings.

This is what matters most to the NBA. The hardcore will be watching. But has the casual fan, the ones who send ratings to their maximum level, forgotten there is even a finals featuring the NBA’s two current marquee players?

This isn’t about the ratings tanking. They won’t. Unless there’s a sweep, especially one that takes eight calendar days to complete. It’s more about maximizing the ratings by getting out the the gate quickly. If the Game 1 rating is up over last years opener, the suits will know the layoff was a non-factor.

They will likely say the longer the wait, the more the anticipation built for the matchup. If the rating is down, they will know, but never admit, the long layoff played a significant factor. The suits will find something else to blame it on and begin praying for a seven-game series, the ultimate goal.

Even after spreading all this misery.

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