Cavs Dominate Local TV Ratings Game, Post Up Michael Jordan Numbers

One of the knocks against LeBron James early in his career was that despite all the hype, he wasn’t a big draw on TV. I guess all it took was a good team around him to change that because the Cavs posted the best local TV ratings the NBA had seen in a decade. According to Sports Business Journal, which has all the local numbers for every team in the league, the Cavs garnered an 8.76 average rating which translates to 134,000 homes in Cleveland. The Lakers were the only team to appear in more homes, averaging 250,000 homes per game. The Lakers earned a 4.43 share ranking them fourth behind the Cavs, Jazz, and Spurs.

The Hornets (64.7%), Hawks (38.6%), Heat (32.7%) and Blazers (29.4%) all enjoyed the greatest growth in ratings this year. The Kings (-40.6%), Warriors (-39.8%), Suns (-37.9%), Mavericks (-30.1%), Pistons (-20.6%), and Nuggets (-19.4%) all saw the largest drops in ratings. When you think about things, everything here makes sense; teams that had big dropoffs from previous years had poor ratings (with the exception of the Nuggets) and teams that improved saw their ratings correspondingly ascend.

Oh yeah, the Clippers (0.51%), Nets (0.52%), and Bobcats (0.56%) brought up the rear. Matter of fact, Bobcats were sadly only seen in an average of 6,000 homes a game. But if you want to know everything you need to know about the NBA, here it is: the Knicks with only a 1.18 rating still had almost double as many homes watching than the Jazz which had ratings almost five times higher. Unfortunately it’s all about the big markets. I’m glad that the Cavs and other teams are doing well locally — that’s a good sign for our business. Shows that the NBA still is a big ticket in some cities.

The Real Winner in the ’09 Draft: Tom Condon and Ben Dogra of CAA

Much like the Dolphins did last year with top pick Jake Long, the Lions supposedly want to have their first pick in the draft already signed before making a selection. This makes a lot of sense because teams want to avoid contract holdouts during training camp, especially bad teams that need their top players on the field. Well it came out last week that the Lions had already begun negotiations with the agents of three players — Matthew Stafford, Jason Smith, and Aaron Curry. Here’s the catch: both Stafford of Georgia and Baylor OT Jason Smith are represented by the same agents — Tom Condon and Ben Dogra of CAA.

If the Lions were trying to decide between the top three guys on their board, price and ease of negotiations could be a critical factor. Unfortunately for Detroit, the luxury of bargaining is lost since CAA is holding two of the top three cards. Now one can argue that the pay scale for draftees is already set by the slotting system (the higher you’re picked the more you make), but contracts vary by position. Knowing what the Lions are willing to pay for Stafford (or Smith) will help the negotiations for the other player, and vice versa. Detroit won’t be able to play any hard ball. Their only leverage for now is Aaron Curry, and from the sounds of things, going with him would be the best option of all.

Incidentally, the Dogra/Condon combination also represented the first and third overall pick in last year’s draft, Jake Long and Matt Ryan. The only difference is the Dolphins weren’t too interested in Ryan whereas the Lions could go in any direction for all we know.

Terrell Owens: Being the Villain Has Cost Me Endorsement Dollars

T.O. sure has been the center of controversy in the football world lately, but what else is new? He was the subject of a report suggesting he was jealous of the Tony Romo/Jason Witten circle, one that T.O. has said was false. Owens even went so far as to call out Ed Werder for reporting that story based on an anonymous source. Then in an interview with Stephen A. Smith also of ESPN, Owens said that the league creates heroes and villains in order to generate more fan interest. T.O. says he’s a victim for being cast as one of the villains and even complained that the image the media has created of him has cost him endorsements:

“[The villain characterization] does bring a level of concern especially when I’m trying to market myself or brand myself. I’ve noticed over the years that I can’t get this endorsement or that endorsement because of the image that I have. And it’s tough to deal with because I know I am a marketable person … I’m very handsome but I’m not [a villainous] type of person.”

Alright, well at least the comment confirms that T.O. does have an agenda in creating his persona. He is working on a brand, he is trying to make himself marketable. It’s just not going well for him. Between Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and LaDainian Tomlinson, there isn’t much of a market left over for him to crack anyway. While I believe ESPN screwed T.O. last week with their tabloid reporting, Owens can only blame himself for drawing significant amounts of negative attention to his feet.

Nike, Oregon, Setting New Standard for Hideous Uniforms

I don’t typically post about team uniforms, but these are so ugly they warrant our attention. After watching Oregon State win a couple of CWS titles in a row, Oregon decided it was about time to start fielding a baseball team again. And if their new uniforms are any indication of team performance, they won’t be winning many games this season. As passed along by site contributor Andy.

OK, let’s just start with that “O” on the pants. That’s totally overdoing it. Doesn’t need to be there, so why have it there? Another thing, when did it become mandatory for jersey tops to be two pieces? Must sleeves be necessary? And do I even need to bother with that hideous green uniform that has the gigantic “O” in the middle? What are they doing, going for the thunder-labia appeal? Let’s just hope those are the alternates and that the team never wears em. Jeez, if that’s the future of baseball uniforms, I’m not so sure I want to be a fan. Of course, a post on ugly unis would not be complete without pics of some of the ugliest unis in sports. My boy Dayn Perry has the Top 10 ugliest uniforms in college football. Here’s a sample:

Economy Affecting Sponsorships: Buick Pulling Back with Tiger Woods?

With the exception of hockey which seems to have declined steadily (regardless of economic conditions), the overall health of sports teams seems to be fine. We haven’t heard much about ticket sales and attendance figures dropping, not to mention merchandise sales and money spent at games. We have heard that the economy may be preventing rich alumni from coming through on their promised donations to their alma maters, and now I’m reading that sponsorships of individual athletes could be waning. Evidence Buick with Tiger Woods:

GM may implement a round of cost cuts because a planned $15 billion in asset sales and savings won’t be enough to maintain its liquidity amid deteriorating sales, people familiar with the matter said. The company’s stock has dropped more than 74 percent this year, to $6.19 at yesterday’s close, and GM has cut 53,000 union workers since 2005.

Because of that, [Woods' agent Mark] Steinberg said in a telephone interview that he wants to find out if it “makes sense to continue” beyond 2009, when the contract expires.

In the coming year, [Woods' agent Larry] Peck said, Buick would be “trimming back” some of its spending on “back of the house” things, such as hospitality at sports events.

One of the problems might be that Tiger is out recovering from knee surgery meaning he’s not producing returns on investment. Buick is also a big sponsor of the PGA Tour in general, so they may choose to scale that back, if not Woods. Bottom line: if the money isn’t there, it’s going to be hard for Buick to advertise, right?

Kobe’s Jersey Most Popular in China

LeBron James so often talks about his goal of becoming a “global icon.” Having a top selling jersey in China — a country of 1.3 billion — would probably be a good starting point. Maybe he’s jealous of Kobe Bryant because come to find out, 24 has the top selling jersey in China for the second year in a row. It’s pretty funny that Yao has slid to the 10th spot because he’s the top NBA player from China. They say everyone who would want a Yao jersey probably already has one. And in case you’re wondering why Kobe switched from Ocho to 24, maybe we now have our answer.

Now the guy who’s probably experienced the biggest resurgence is Kevin Garnett. The spike in his jersey sales is probably attributed to him switching teams from Minnesota to Boston. KG had the top selling jersey in the U.S., as well as the second highest in China. After that it was T-Mac third, followed by Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade (loved by the Euros), Dwight Howard, and Yao. Since it has been a few years since Kobe switched his jersey number, one must only assume his popularity in China is due to his fantastic nickname there; they know him as “Little Flying Warrior.” That’s a pretty tight nickname if you ask me. Though maybe it’s not just the nickname. Perhaps it’s his badass game putting him in MJ’s company that’s getting it done instead.

Lenny Dykstra a Stock Fraud?

Just like many of you, I was pretty shocked to first hear about Lenny Dykstra’s financial prowess in the baseball afterlife. Amongst some of his boasts, he was writing columns for Jim Cramer’s TheStreet.com (usually giving advice on trading stock options), and being featured on HBO in which he said he had bought Wayne Gretzky’s house. Not too shabby. There’s no denying the guy has something good going, but just how much of it is coming from the man himself who proclaims he doesn’t like to read too much because he’s not too smart and it hurts his eyes? Turns out there might be someone pulling the strings of the Dykstra puppet behind the scenes. The following info was released by Forbes and came out in a suit by Doubledown (the people who were publishing Dykstra’s magazine that fell apart):

“At Dykstra’s insistence, Doubledown began negotiations to pay Richard Suttmeier, a stock analyst, to provide Dykstra with research assistance for the Dykstra Report and who, upon information and belief learned subsequently, provided Dykstra lists of recommended stocks daily.”

Who is Richard Suttmeier? A market strategist for financial Web site RightSide Advisors and formerly a contributor to RealMoney.com, a subscription Web site owned by TheStreet.com.

FORBES compared Dykstra’s buy recommendations as they appeared on TheStreet.com from Apr. 1 through May 1 with those in Suttmeier’s weekly Sector Report during the same month and before. Among Dykstra’s 17 buys, 11 had appeared days earlier in Suttmeier’s newsletter.

Let’s see, if I mimicked some of the picks I found in the top holdings of an excellent mutual fund, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a great financial genius for discovering stocks, but there is still something to be said about it, especially considering how many people out there are giving bad advice. Moreover, Dykstra was a ballplayer — he had to learn about stocks from someone. Looks like he’s sifted through all the available info and found something that works, even if it means picking off someone else’s lift. I give Nails a pass on this one because what he’s doing is obviously working.