Branding the World of Sports

2008 NBA Finals will be richest series in history

Posted by ZA on May 31, 2008

The executives at ABC Sports are going to sleep well this weekend knowing that when they get into the office on Monday they’re going to book more ad revenue than the NBA Finals has in over a decade.  This is the most highly anticipated NBA Finals since Michael Jordan hung up his Bulls jersey, and the TV ratings and ad dollars generated will reflect that.

This is the 11th time the Celtics and Lakers have played each other in the NBA Finals.  Their match ups during the 1980’s when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played were the “heyday” for the NBA.  Bird, Magic and Jordan were ambassadors for the NBA; so those 80’s series between Celts and Lakers were the foundation of the success the league has experienced since then.

So who are the big winners from this Celtics/Lakers match up?  Who benefits the most aside from the teams themselves?

* ABC Sports– Executives at ABC Sports have been playing Russian Roulette in their offices for the past 10 days.  The bullet they dodged was a San Antonio Spurs vs Detroit Pistons championship match up, which would have been more of a “clunker” than when they played that same series a few years ago (shivers down the spin of ABC execs everywhere).  They would have had to pump Prozac into the coffee in their cafeteria if the Spurs and Pistons had won.  Instead ABC is about to have the highest rated NBA Finals in over a decade (maybe ever) and should set a record for the ad revenue sold on this NBA Finals.

* The NBA & Commissioner David Stern– Stern has been doing nothing but stepping on landmines lately (Sonics relocating, players running afoul with the law) and has had to preside over some dark days for the NBA in recent years (Referee scandal, Pistons/Pacers brawl, etc), but this NBA Finals will shine a lot of positive light on the league and Stern.  This match up is a throwback to the glory days of the NBA when gas was under $1.00 per gallon and Larry Bird was knocking down jump shots.  Expect to see the Commissioner on TV smiling a lot, he’s going to be thinking about a renaissance for high league that starts with this Finals.

* The Fans– East Coast vs West Coast.  California vs New England.  Two franchises that have participated in a combined 49 NBA Finals.  NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.  Loads of Hollywood celebrities sitting courtside at the Staples Center while Marky Mark and Beantown’s finest show up in Boston.  This series has appeal that will draw in fans from all across the country (world).  I’m only a casual NBA fan, but I know that I’ll watch every game in this series.  The interest in this series from fans will be huge, and the hype in the media will even go beyond that.

* The Media– There is nothing worse for the sports media than trying to “prop up” a lame Championship series, watching them trying to hype Astros vs White Sox World Series a couple of years ago was like watching George Foreman trying to pimp his mini grills (just not appealing).  But a Lakers versus Celtics series stands on its on merits, there won’t need to be any pimping by the media to get fans interested.  Instead ESPN can go into full hype mode with hourly reports from Boston and Los Angeles, and every single possible angle covered.  I full expect Skip Bayless’ head will explode during the next two weeks.

* Ticket Brokers– Yes, I know a little something about this topic.  That cash register sound you hear is the sound coming from ticket brokers in Boston and Los Angeles where ticket prices are going to be sky high.  You want to sit courtside, next to Justin Timberlake, for Game 5 of the series?  You’ll need to own an Amex black card.

* Nike – Never hurts to have one of your marquee endorsers as the key star in the series, expect to see a lot of Kobe Bryant’s “mamba” shoes during the series.  I even expect to see a resurgence of the video of Kobe jumping over the car.

* Adidas – Ironic that the two shoe titans will once again clash with Adidas support Celtics KG and Nike putting their money behind Kobe.  KG has a lifetime endorsement contract with Adidas that he signed back in 2003.

When the smoke clears I expect the revenue generated by this series will easily be the most in the history of the NBA Finals.  Merchandise sales, ticket sales, tv ad revenue, etc. will all be at record levels.  So sit back and enjoy the show because the hype is already started and Game 1 is Thursday.

Magic vs Bird
Will they make a replica of this famous photo for the 2008 Finals with Kobe & KG?
(Photo courtesy:

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