Can San Antonio spur a super NBA championship?By Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO, California—A Kobe-LeBron showdown in the NBA Finals is out of the picture. And so is the league’s hope for high television ratings and premium advertising dollars.
The Los Angeles Lakers, gunning for a sixth NBA title in the Kobe Bryant era, got booted out in five games by the Oklahoma Thunder in the second round—to the disappointment of fans, including countless Filipinos in the greater Los Angeles area—who have come to expect their team to reach the Finals every year.
On the other hand, LeBron James and the Miami Heat overcame a wobbly start to win their semifinal series with injury-laden Indiana, 4-2, last night. The Heat stopped the Pacers, 105-93, to arrange an Eastern Conference Finals match-up with either the Philadelphia Sixers or the Boston Celtics.
The Sixers defeated the Celtics, 82-75, Wednesday night, sending the Eastern Conference semifinals back to Beantown for a deciding Game 7.
Guided by Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra, Miami is the last remaining playoff team fancied more by Pinoys in America. With the Heat’s clinching win over the Pacers, Spoelstra dodged a bullet and momentarily silenced critics, including NBA great Magic Johnson, who had advocated for his former mentor, Heat GM Pat Riley, to leave the front office and return to coaching vice Erik.
Meanwhile, the stage is set for the Western Conference Finals with the Thunder facing the San Antonio Spurs in a clash of NBA teams from small media markets.
In terms of advertising income, the league will get a lift of sorts, should Philadelphia, America’s fourth largest media market, or seventh-ranked Boston, prevail in the Eastern Finals over the Heat of the 16th-ranked Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area.
The ratings game would have trumped media market dynamics for the NBA—with reported revenue losses of $300 million for 2010-2011—had a desired Heat-Lakers Finals, aka Bryant vs James occurred in the shortened season.
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The eyes of Texas and the rest of the sporting nation are upon Tim Duncan and the Spurs, who are on a roll, having won 18 straight and have yet to lose in the playoffs. But NBA and television honchos are wondering if fans would watch San Antonio play should it make it to the Finals.
With a horde of now 30-something war horses, the Spurs face a posse of exciting, young stallions led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The Spurs last played and came out winners in the 2007 NBA Finals against a younger James and the Cleveland Cavaliers — in the worst ever championship, television ratings-wise, in the history of the NBA with a 6.2 rating.
Duncan and company also played and prevailed over the New Jersey Nets in the 2003 championship series that captured a rating of 6.5 — the second worst in league annals.
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He’s my youngest grandson’s namesake and a lifelong friend. Joaquin “Jake” Ayson has retired as chief executive officer of the National Golf Association of the Philippines, after almost a half century’s work of molding promising par busters.
Jake’s been a great chum of mine since I first met him in the mid-70s. I am grateful to Jake for rewarding me with his friendship and his insight on the local golf scene that only a witness to its storied past and exciting future could impart.
Enjoy the rocking chair, bud. And good luck on your appeal for a better retirement package.
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