Sports

Who's the biggest Heat and Celtics fan in the world?

Want to know who woke up screaming this morning? This guy:

Miami, home to one of the NBA’s showpiece franchises, is in deep trouble versus Indiana. LeBron James stepped up big time in Game 4, but Chris Bosh is out, Dwyane Wade is clearly hobbled and the rest of the team is playing like the lunchtime pickup crew down at your local Y. Bron is great, but there’s only one of him and the Pacers are not afraid.

In the other East semi, Boston won Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead and restore a little bit of order against Philly, but the Sixers have been good enough and the Celtics have looked old enough that nobody is breathing easy just yet.

Out West the conference matchups are set: it’s San Antonio vs Oklahoma City. Which brings me back to David Stern’s cold sweats. There is a distinct possibility that the NBA semifinals could feature the least sexy final four, from a marketing and revenue perspective, in recent league history. Let’s illustrate with a table:

 

TV Market Rank

Who Cares Index*

Philadelphia

4

0

Indianapolis

25

-2

San Antonio

37

3

OKC

45

4

* A subjective, if relatively informed best guess metric that evaluates how likely, on a scale of one to ten, a theoretical viewer in a non-local market with no vested interest in the outcome would be to tune in a game involving this team. Traditional powers like the Lakers and Celtics probably get eights or nines.

David Stern’s happiness is a function of those two numbers. Big TV markets and teams with large Who Cares scores mean ratings which mean money. Smaller markets are bad. Low Who Cares scores are toxic.

Now, Philly is a big TV market, so that’s good. But their Who Cares multiplier is non-existent. Outside of dedicated NBA watchers and actual Philly sports fans, how many people in the country can name the Sixers’ starters? Heck, how many people can name any of the Sixers’ starters? Right. So Philadelphia in The Finals means happy viewers in the City of Brotherly Love (America’s most ironic municipal nickname, btw) and a great big yawn everywhere else.

By contrast, Indy makes Philly look like a ratings bonanza. At #25 in the market size rankings, they’re actually smaller than Charlotte. Who Cares Index? If the Pacers get past the Heat you’re going to have to make viewing mandatory just to get league office employees to tune in.

In the other bracket you have the #37 and #45 TV markets squaring off. Verily, if the Commish were any more excited he’d be running around the house widdling on the floor and trying to hump everybody’s leg.

There’s some consolation here, I suppose. The Spurs have won four titles and are a known commodity, which helps. None of their stars (even the greatest power forward who ever lived, Tim Duncan) are exactly TMZ material, though (although Tony Parker was married to Eva Longoria – believe it or not, that probably helps here). In OKC you have the scoring champ and his dynamic sidekick and they’re sort of fun to watch, although that identically dressed Stepford Crowd is whiter than a Klan rally and frankly they creep me right the hell out. I can’t be the only one.

So who’s the biggest Miami and Boston fan in the world today? Right. This guy:

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