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NBA May Pull Local Upset; Hong Tired of Losing Sleep

There was one line in Buffalo News writer Greg Connor’s interesting column on Kevin Sylvester’s move from TV host to host of a new Buffalo Sabres show on WGR radio that caught my eye.

Victoria Hong: Fools Wake Up Alarm

In the column, Sylvester addressed his replacing ESPN host Colin Cowherd in the 10 a.m. to noon spot on WGR, a move I find regrettable because I am a Cowherd fan.

“I’ve been on Colin’s show a few times,” Sylvester told Connors. “I think he does a great job. He talks a lot of NBA, and the NBA’s not nearly as big in Buffalo as hockey.”

That is certainly the popular view in Buffalo and there is no denying the popularity of hockey here. Of course, hockey has an advantage – the Sabres play in the NHL. The Buffalo Braves left the NBA decades ago.

But here’s a little quiz: Do you think Buffalo TV viewers are more interested in watching the Stanley Cup finals or the NBA finals?

Most sports fans would probably bet their houses on the NHL winning.

And they just might be wrong this year because of the dynamic NBA final series pitting Miami superstar LeBron James and Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant.

The first two games of the Stanley Cup finals between Los Angeles and New Jersey had a 7.8 rating and a 6.8 rating on Channel 2, making Buffalo the No. 1 market in the country for the finals for those games.

The first two games of the NBA playoffs between James and the Heat and Durant and the Thunder had a 7.4 rating and a 7.0 rating on Channel 7.

In other words, the NHL average of 7.3 was only .1 ahead of the NBA average of 7.2 for the first two games of the series here. The NBA appeared headed for a comfortable triumph here until Game 3 of the series Sunday ran into the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Nationally, the NBA game dominated the Open. Locally, golf beat the NBA game head-to-head in prime time by 2-1 and peaked with a 13.1 rating by the time Webb Simpson was declared the winner.

The NBA game only had a 5.0 rating here, hitting a peak of 8.0 after golf ended. That is still higher than game 3 of the NHL playoffs, primarily because that game (3.31 here) was on NBC’s cable network instead of its broadcast network.

Even with the 5.0 rating, the ratings for this year’s star-studded NBA finals were up about 15 percent here from last year’s final won by Dallas over Miami.

Miami’s 104-98 win over OKC Tuesday averaged a 5.9 rating here, compared to a 5.2 a year ago. The four NBA games so far have averaged a 6.3 rating here, which is about 10 percent higher than last year.

The first four Stanley Cup finals games in the six-game series averaged a 6.0 rating here with an asterisk – two were on cable where audiences are lower. The four games in the series carried by NBC averaged a 7.3 here, with a high of 7.9 in the decisive game six.

The NBA – which is getting killer ratings nationally despite the fact the two teams play in small markets — could win here with an asterisk (hockey’s cable games) if the ratings for Thursday’s Game 5 rebound as they typically do when potential deciding games are played.

This may be the only market in the country where ratings for the hockey finals are anywhere near the ratings for the NBA finals. However, a look at the local basketball ratings so far suggests that WGR, local TV and the Buffalo News might consider giving the NBA more love. WNYers certainly do.

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more sports talk this year about the unfairness of the NBA system of giving the top seed the first two games and then going on the road for three games before coming home for the final two games if they are necessary.

It means if the top seed loses one of the first two games as OKC did that it might never make it home again. Of course, it always has been difficult for the team with the three straight home games to win them all as Miami is trying to do Thursday.

If the NBA is trying to save travel time by this format, this year the distance between the East Coast and West Coast teams isn’t that bad. Miami and Oklahoma City are about 1,200 miles apart.  

In the NHL format, teams play two games at home each, game five is played at the top seed, game six is played at the lower seed and game seven is back at the top seed. This year, that meant a lot of traveling between L.A. and New Jersey – the two play in cities about 2,800 miles apart. But it seems to be a much fairer format to the home team.  

Why is morning anchor Victoria Hong planning to leave Channel 4 to work for Delaware North as soon as the station allows her to go as first reported here two days ago?

The answer is Hong 3:16.

This isn’t to be confused with the religious sign often seen at athletic events — John 3:16.

Hong 3:16 a.m. is the odd time she’s been getting up for the last 10 years as the host of Channel 4’s “Wake Up.”

“My bed time has been getting later and later as my kids have gotten older,” said Hong. “That doesn’t leave me with a lot of time for sleep. I think it affects your mind and body.”

She said she sets her alarm clock 20 minutes ahead to fool herself into thinking she’s sleeping later and to give her more time to get ready than she thinks she has.

But why 3:16 instead of 3:15?

“It makes me feel good that it is not a regular time,” she explained.

That might sound goofy to you, but I do much the same thing. However, not at 3:16. Usually, I set my clock four hours or so later than that.

Silly me forgot Tuesday that there are actually some cable systems in North America that carry The NFL Network. Rogers Cable in Canada is one of them, which is why cable subscribers in Ontario shouldn’t have a problem with the Bills-Miami game Nov. 15 carried in Buffalo on independent station WBBZ. An astute reader called that to my attention so I corrected what I had written in earlier editions of Tuesday’s blog. 

pergament@msn.com

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6 responses to "NBA May Pull Local Upset; Hong Tired of Losing Sleep"

  1. That 3:16 am routine gets tough on the system…I hear her pain!

  2. tylerh says:

    since when is MIAMI a “small-market?”

    you lost ALL credibility with THAT statement.

    • alanp says:

      In 2011, Miami was the 16th market in the country, which makes it a small market by NBA team standards. It was barely ahead of Cleveland, Orlando and Sacramento. You have to be in the Top 10 to be a big market.

  3. Son says:

    You are a Colin Cowherd fan? That is very disappointing. All he does is repeat what he says and he thinks he is always right.

    A friend of mine today mentioned the 2-3-2 format isn’t fair because if Miami wins game 5 then they will have had 3 home games to OKC’s 2 home games. With OKC being the higher seed, this doesn’t seem right. Although I don’t like the 2-3-2 format it isn’t because Miami has the potential to play more home games, it’s because the format has never worked. I am not sure of the numbers because I can’t find them anywhere, but not many teams if any have won the 3 straight home games. I think the blame falls on OKC for not winning the first 2 at home. Side note on this, the NBA originally adopted this format after the NHL did so in 93-94 when Pacific division teams played Central Division teams. In 94-94 the NHL allowed the higher seeded team choose which format they wanted in order to reduce travel. That was only in the rounds leading up to the Stanley Cup though.

    • Son says:

      *correction the format was adopted in 85, because the NHL had that format. In 93-94 the NHL changed to the format above and after the 95 season it was no longer.

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