Lakers' NBA title caps a lucrative month for sports business
It didn't hurt that the Lakers were up against their rivals, the Celtics, for the NBA title. But it isn't just ABC and the NBA that are scoring financially. There's hockey, golf, tennis, and the World Cup, too.
June is turning into a high-scoring month for the sports business – punctuated by the nail-biter series that made the Los Angeles Lakers NBA champions on Thursday night.
By lasting for seven games, and with a finish that hung in the balance until the final seconds, the basketball series became an ad-revenue winner for host network ABC. It didn't hurt that the Lakers were up against the Boston Celtics, making it a rematch of one of the most storied rivalries in pro sports.
“It was a terrific back and forth series,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economist who follows the sports business. “It's good for the buzz … of the NBA.” Although a single event like this doesn’t catapult basketball to a new place in American hearts and wallets, the excitement came at a helpful time, when sports are struggling with some of the same economic challenges as other industries, he says.
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A parade through L.A. in coming days will cap the Lakers' success. But it isn't just ABC and the National Basketball Association that are scoring financially and with fans.
Consider what else has been going on this month in the world of sport:
• Hockey's Stanley Cup drew a big audience for NBC as the Chicago Blackhawks bested the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.
• In tennis, Spaniard Rafael Nadal won his fifth French Open in six years, defeating the opponent who had knocked him out of the event a year earlier.
• In golf, the signature test of skill on American soil – the US Open – is now under way at one of the sport's most famous and scenic venues, a reshaped Pebble Beach course on the California coast. OK, like it or not the plot line also includes the comeback bid by a tarnished Tiger Woods, but there's some good golf happening (with final rounds on NBC this weekend).
Oh yeah, and a little thing called the World Cup is alive and kicking in South Africa. Early in the tournament, there's already been plenty of excitement along with too much noise from those weird vuvuzelas. The US team managed a 2-2 tie in a game against Slovenia Friday.