This is what I’m thinking:
There may not be a lot of National Basketball Association fans in Western New York, but the ones there are usually are pretty smart.
Wednesday was a big night for the NBA and a test for local hoop fans.
The Golden State Warriors won their record 73rd regular season game on ESPN and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant scored a league-high 60 points this season to end his career with a victory over Utah carried by ESPN2.
There was a lot of debate during the day of which game was more important or more interesting.
It turned out NBA fans couldn’t go wrong.
Unfortunately, the local TV audiences were kept down because both games started at 10:30 p.m. and also were competing here with a NHL playoff game on NBCSN.
Not surprisingly, the hockey game was a winner here with a 1.7 rating on NBCSN
WNY basketball fans played it intelligently.
They watched the extended, emotional opening ceremonies for Bryant’s last game in the first half hour and then switched to see Golden State's barrage of three-point shots in its win over Memphis. Bryant’s opening ceremonies had 1.5 rating on ESPN to a 0.6 for the start of the Golden State game. After 11 p.m., the Golden State rating went up to a 1.4 for 30 minutes as the rating for the Laker game nosedived.
But guess what? Hoop fans switched back to Kobe at 12:30 a.m. for his incredible fourth quarter on his way to 60 points. The Laker game had a 1.2 rating from 12:30 to 1 a.m., while the Golden State game averaged a 0.8.
ESPN2 play-by-play Mike Tirico beautifully captured Bryant’s final moments, saying he left the sport “in vintage fashion.”
Viewers who stayed up late also were rewarded by hearing Bryant’s speech to Laker fans.
He joked that while he heard his teammates throughout his career asking him to pass the ball, on his final night they told him not to pass. He obliged, taking 50 shots.
He ended his speech appropriately referencing his nickname, saying “Mamba out.”
It was a great final line after a great final game.
The two-part documentary on “Jackie Robinson” written by Clarence native David McMahon and his wife Sarah Burns scored pretty well in the ratings locally. The opener Monday had a 1.9 rating and the second episode Tuesday a 1.5 rating on WNED-TV. Those are decent numbers for a PBS series, especially since the documentary was competing with major league games carried on cable. It should get a larger audience from later DVR viewing.
While I was on vacation, Kevin Sylvester left as host as WGR’s “Sabres Hockey Hotline.” He had been working for the Buffalo Sabres in a variety of roles on radio and television over 11 years and worked for WGR before that. According to his web page, Sylvester began working on the PGA Tour Radio in 2015 and now is an on-site play-by-play announcer for it. He also does video reports for PGATour.com.
Remember former Channel 4 Allen Costantini? He has been working or KARE-TV in the Minneapolis market for years and now reportedly is taking a buyout offered by its owner TEGNA. That's the same owner as Channel 2. I am being told that nobody on the air at Channel 2 is taking the TEGNA buyout offer.