The Disney Channel drew 17.2 million viewers to its premiere telecast of High School Musical 2 on Friday night. To put that in perspective, the 17.2 million viewers is more than the amount of viewers for four of the five games of the 2006 World Series and every game of the 2007 NBA Finals.Not a good sign when a made-for-cable TV movie (albeit one with enormous marketing potential) is seen more than an entire championship series for a major American sport. This is one of the reasons why I don't feel the Tim Donaghy issue will seriously impact the NBA. The league operates as a niche product. There is no such thing as the casual NBA fan. Only real basketball fans watch and follow the games with regularity. An exciting Suns-Mavs matchup will entice more viewers, but since the post-Jordan era the NBA has continued to slip from public awareness as the NFL, MLB and even NASCAR have thrived.
An unsatisfying playoff system, mediocre play on the court, (epitomized by the near-extinction of the midrange jumper and the rise of zone defense) , the perceived notion that players are thugs and a miserable TV presentation (courtesy of ABC/ESPN) are all far bigger obstacles for Commissioner David Stern than "one rogue official."
Of course, if Donaghy does implicate up to twenty other NBA referees as gamblers then the league may have to reevaluate its priorities.
EDIT: No sooner do I publish this post there emerges a report about a gun battle at DeShawn Stevenson's home.