Bulls & Bears: NBA and NHL Finals are a hit with viewers

 

 
 
 
 
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California.
 
 

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California.

Photograph by: Ezra Shaw, Vancouver Sun

 It’s quite simple, actually: Great stories drive great television ratings, social media mentions and overall fan engagement. That’s why it’s been another bullish week for two of North America’s big five professional leagues. Going shoulder to shoulder in their respective playoffs the past two months, the NHL, NBA and their national rights holders are telling some great stories in their league championship series this week.

None is more compelling than the Vegas Golden Knights and their pursuit of Stanley Cup supremacy in their inaugural season as the NHL’s 31st franchise. Win or lose against the Washington Capitals, the Knights are the most impressive expansion launch in North American pro sport history. Yet their story is just one of many in the Stanley Cup Final. There’s the George McPhee connection to both finalists. There’s Alex Ovechkin. There’s the head coaches: Barry Trotz and Gerard Gallant, both of whom have risen from the ashes of recent dismissal to the sport’s grandest stage. And there’s the goaltenders: Braden Holtby and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Average national audiences of north of five million viewers in the U.S. and three million in Canada should be the baseline the rest of the way in the Stanley Cup Final.

No less engaging is the NBA Finals, where the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are doing something no other two teams have ever done in North American team sport: Meet each other for the fourth consecutive year in the finals. Just when you thought Dubs-Cavs might be getting old, they treat us to a stunning overtime in Game 1 and LeBron Raymone James, Sr. becomes the sixth player in NBA history to score 50 or more points in a Finals game but the first to lose while doing so.

James will need more of those epic 51-8-8 performances for Cleveland to remain competitive in the NBA Finals. Yet how much more does he have to do before he’s acknowledged not only as the best player of his generation but the greatest of all time? Fourteen time NBA All-Star, eight consecutive NBA Finals and nine in total, three championship rings, four NBA MVPs and three NBA Finals MVPs. He’s already over-performed by carrying this particular Cleveland supporting cast to the Finals. Anything else from here on out is a bonus.

Bears of the Week

It has been an awful week for Philadelphia 76ers President & general manager Bryan Colangelo. The former Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors GM was in the news for all of the wrong reasons this week when his alleged links to a series of secret Twitter accounts almost overshadowed both the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Final.

The controversy is unfathomable to many inside and outside of the NBA, where Colangelo is seen as a bright, articulate and media savvy front office executive. It proved again how Twitter has become the go-to social media platform in the business of sport. It also showed how secret, anonymous and so-called “burner” accounts are the dark underbelly of social. 

And finally, it showed how innocent until proven guilty is often replaced by guilty until proven innocent in the urgency of the million-channel universe. Either way, it will be difficult for Colangelo to survive the tempest.

The Sport Market on TSN 1040 rates and debates the bulls and bears of sport business. Join Tom Mayenknecht Saturday from 7 to 11 a.m. for a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans.

Follow Tom Mayenknecht at: Twitter.com/TheSportMarket

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California.
 

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California.

Photograph by: Ezra Shaw, Vancouver Sun

 
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31, 2018 in Oakland, California.
Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo speaks with members of the media during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's practice facility in Camden, N.J., Friday, May 11, 2018.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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