Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court during Saturday’s a 2017 Summer League game against the Brooklyn Nets in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Monday night in Las Vegas, thousands are expected to turn out for an NBA Championship game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers. Hundreds of thousands more, at least, are expected to tune in ESPN for live coverage.
Wait, you say, it’s the middle of July — a time for baseball, beach and barbecue. But men’s pro basketball? Normally way off sports fans’ radar screens this time of year.
But there’s been nothing normal about NBA Summer League 2017.
And Monday’s Lakers vs. Blazers Summer League championship game will provide the exclamation point to an event the NBA, local organizers and ESPN programmers say has been a raging success.
“Our ESPN and ESPN 2 [summer league] ratings are up 50 per cent over last year’s” says Ashley O’Connor, the sports network’s senior manager for NBA programming and acquisitions.
Those ratings have included a July 7 Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers that drew