Sports Bulls & Bears: NBA celebrates Christmas Day monopoly

 

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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VANCOUVER — Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports:

Bulls-of-the-Week: The scores and results page on the TSN mobile app Thursday said it all. So did every online sports ticker on television, radio and print platforms in North America that day. Nothing but net; nothing but NBA basketball on Christmas Day. Each of the limited schedule of five pro sports games played on Christmas Day had the Jerry West-inspired NBA logo on it. That’s really all there was on TV, on radio and online. Five games staggered from 9 am PT until after 10 pm PT designed to give the NBA something unique, something that happens but once a year: One league owning a date in the calendar, with wall-to-wall coverage on three networks in the US (ABC, ESPN and TNT) and on TSN and Sportsnet north of the border. Heck, even the biggest North American sport television event of the year – the NFL’s Super Bowl – has co-stars from other leagues (notably the NBA and NHL) earlier in the day. The Christmas Day blast is a creation of former NBA commissioner David Stern that successor Adam Silver has been only too happy to continue. For a league that begins its regular season at the end of October right after the World Series of Major League Baseball, Christmas Day has become the real tip off for the NBA in terms of television ratings and fan traction. Traditionally having the continent’s three largest media markets in play doesn’t hurt. The schedule-maker also helps with match-ups of great story-telling, like the return of LeBron James to Miami and the western conference rivalry between the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Throw in the league’s hottest team in a showdown between the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers and you tend to have some television appeal. Have TNT Half-Time Show personality Kenny “The Jet” Smith throw former NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal headfirst into a Christmas tree that night and you’ve made a mark, not only on television but on Twitter and most every other social media channel on the planet. The critics finger the NBA as a league that should be giving its players the day off with their families, but for broadcast rights holders, corporate sponsors and the 10 participating teams, it’s a sport business gift that gives them all a lift to kick off the holidays.

Bears-of-the-Week: The NBA is bullish on television on Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean the quintuple-header of match-ups is flawless. In fact, this year it exposed two of the biggest duds in the basketball world: the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers. The two once-proud franchises are hardcourt disasters with horrific losing records. Yet they’re bears at the bottom of the sport business barrel mainly because they’re as hapless as they are despite both being heritage brands from the two biggest media markets in North America. What’s more, they’re two of the most anemic teams in the NBA in spite of their status as the two richest franchises in the league. According to Forbes Magazine, the 5-26 Knicks and 9-20 Lakers came into the season valued at $1.4B and $1.35B, respectively. That means that they’re right up there with the $2.4B Washington Redskins and $1.8B New York Jets as the most under-performing clubs in sport when you consider their wins-to-valuation ratios. That has to be nothing less than a total and utter embarrassment for parent companies and operators MSG and AEG (the latter of whom owns a minority stake in the Lakers).

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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