Finals notebook: Around the world, fans are watching
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Miami manager Erik Spoelstra makes no effort to hide his excitement or appreciation when journalists from the Philippines attend virtual press conferences to ask him questions during the NBA finals.
In his mother's homeland, they are definitely watching the playoffs.
Of all international markets measured, the Philippines have the largest average audience for live play in this season's playoffs - and Spoelstra isn't the only reason for that. They're big LeBron James fans there too, which shows where the clicks are coming from.
When James turned 35 last December, the NBA made a video of the 35 best pieces of his career. It has been viewed more than 42 million times - with roughly 25% of those clicks, or roughly 10 million views, from the Philippines.
The top five international markets that featured the Los Angeles Lakers' games on the NBA League Pass this season were, in order, Australia, the Philippines, Brazil, Spain and Mexico. For the heat, it's practically the same order: Australia, the Philippines, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico.
Fans in China have seen fewer games than usual this season after state broadcaster CCTV cut its relationship with the NBA last October. Game 5 of the NBA Finals, however, was shown on CCTV, the broadcaster announced on Friday - and James' popularity there has been enormous throughout his 17-year career.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan are on the first board of directors of the newly formed NBA foundation.
Also on the board: Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Pelicans, Tony Ressler, principal owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of the NBA Board of Governors of the Toronto Raptors, Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers and Harrison from Sacramento Kings Barnes.
The plans for the foundation were finalized in August. The foundation will work to stimulate economic growth in the black community. An initial $ 300 million will be made available over the next ten years. Each team will donate $ 1 million annually for these 10 years, or a total of $ 30 million.
The National Basketball Players Association, in collaboration with Black Players for Change, released a video on Friday that further explores the issues of racial inequality and police brutality - both important points of discussion during the NBA's time in the Walt Disney World bubble.
It is the latest move to "keep social justice and racial equality at the forefront of talk about the upcoming elections," the groups said.
Among the NBA players who helped film the video while they were in the bubble: Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, Andre Iguodala, Jayson Tatum and Austin Rivers.
"We stand with our brothers at Black Players for Change to remember that we will not forget the victims of police brutality and racial injustice and will not stop fighting for change," said NBPA President Chris Paul.
There were only three sweeps in this season's playoffs, all in the first round, all in the Eastern Conference.
This is the first time since 2014 that there were no sweeps in the conference semifinals, conference finals, or NBA finals. Before that, there were no sweeps in the last three laps, the last time in 2008.
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers entered the fifth game of the NBA final, just 25 points away from Karl Malone, in second place in the league's standings - both in the regular season and in the postseason.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tops this list with 44,151 points. Malone had 41,689; James started on Friday with 41,664.
GAME 5 REFS
Marc Davis, Kane Fitzgerald and Eric Lewis were officially commissioned for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Davis and Fitzgerald both worked on Game 1 of the series; Lewis was working on Game 2.
The NBA selects 12 umpires for the series of titles and typically works once between games 1 through 4. Often times, the seasoned umpires in this group are asked to play a second game in the final, depending on how long the series lasts.
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