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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.

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It's not clear if the soccer matches (or really "football" to most citizens of the planet) will be a financial win for the host nation, but plenty of advertisers are trying to cash in. One example: Sony, which gets exposure when people click for video clips on the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) website. The US broadcasting is largely on ESPN, which is in the same corporate family as ABC.

The Lakers-Celtics championship was a showcase for some great basketball, pitting L.A.stars like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol against the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. By going a full seven games, the series raked in extra ad revenue for ABC. And although Cleveland has plenty of fans sorry that the Cavaliers and LeBron James didn't make it to the final, arguably the classic rivalry between teams from the East and West Coasts helps to boost the sport's profile.

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According to preliminary numbers, the final game of the NBA series had the biggest TV viewership of any NBA game since 1998, when Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls against the Utah Jazz.

Similarly, the National Hockey League basked in its Stanley Cup final. The NHL said the season was its best ever for business and that the championship drew "the largest audience across all platforms in the history of the sport."

Of course, sports can involve its share of heartbreak, too. The baseball season is having its usual share of excitement, but the sport's highest-profile moment in June was not a crowd-pleaser. A self-confessed bad call by umpire Jim Joyce stirred a frenzy of debate over whether Major League Baseball should initiate wider use of instant replays to reduce the potential for game-changing mistakes by the umps.

In this case, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga saw what would have been the 21st "perfect game" in the sport's history (no batter gets on base for the opposing team) in the sport's history.

And even basketball – and the Los Angeles area – was sorry at the passing of legendary coach John Wooden, who led UCLA to 10 national championships.

As an economic force, sports are a huge business – generating $213 billion in value in the US alone, by one estimate. Basketball continues to rank lower than football or baseball in popularity among Americans. But behind soccer, it's one of the most popular sports globally.

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