LOS ANGELES — The nation has spoken and they love Kobe and Blake and Los Angeles and everything All-Star. The ratings soared (over a car) for Sunday night’s 2011 All-Star Game and All-Star Saturday Night on TNT.
More than 17 million combined to watch the festivities, making this weekend the most-watched in the 26-year history of the combined events. More than nine million viewers tuned in Sunday, as All-Star MVP/old hometown hero Kobe Bryant led the Western Conference past LeBron James and East in a competitive 148-143 showcase.
“I feel like we have a sense of responsibility and we are voted in for what we do during the season, which is play hard,” Bryant said. “And we come here, that’s what the fans want to see. They want to see us go at it and see us compete and that’s what I try to do and that’s what I try to tell my teammates to do.”
The West’s triumph was the highest rated since Michael Jordan‘s All-Star finale in 2003. All-Star Saturday Night, highlighted by Rookie of the Year favorite/new hometown hero Blake Griffin, tallied more than eight million sets of eyes, setting an all-time record.
TNT saw its ratings grow significantly in every key demographic from last year, demonstrating how entertaining this All-Star weekend must have been to fans across the country. The players involved shared in the fun.
Asked what he took out of the coming-out-party weekend that included the Rookie Challenge, Dunk Contest and All-Star Game, an exhausted Griffin said everything.
“The time I spent with the other guys,” the Clippers sensation said. “I think that’s the stuff I’ll remember the most; appearances and stuff like that, the Dunk Contest, it was all fun, but I think the things that you remember the most are the time you spend with the other guys around you that are going through the same thing as you.”
LeBron was asked about the state of the game today versus the game he watched as a kid.
“You have athleticism, you have guys that can fly, you have guys that can shoot the ball extremely well and you have guys that can handle the ball like no other,” said James, who tallied only the second triple-double in All-Star history. “You have Isiah Thomas and you have Chris Paul; you have Michael Jordan and you’ve got Kobe Bryant; you’ve got Magic Johnson and you’ve got I guess myself, and the list goes on.
“So the game has not changed that much. We just try to follow the footsteps those guys were able to lay down for us and make this game a beautiful game to watch.”