Whatever compelled Magic Johnson to announce to a media scrum that he would not be returning as President of Basketball Operations? And to do so without telling his boss first, team owner Jeannie Buss?
Bulls of the Week
It’s been a bullish week for the NHL, with one of the most interesting opening rounds in recent Stanley Cup tournament memory getting underway Wednesday.
The television juggernaut — in both Canada and the United States — is the Original Six matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. With the two teams squaring off in the first round for the second consecutive year and the third time in six years, it’s becoming a solid rivalry matchup.
Both the Leafs and Bruins occupy positions of strength heading into the post-season. Toronto is the largest media market in the country and the US$1.45-billion Leafs have a national fan base. Boston is the only American Original Six franchise alive, with the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks all on the outside looking in for the second straight year.
That’s why whoever wins this opening round, there will be many broadcast rights holders, corporate partners, merchandising licensees and betting platforms cheering them on to keep an Original Six presence as deep as possible into the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.
It’s also a bull market for the NBA, which tips off its playoffs Saturday. That’s particularly true for the NBA in Canada, where this was the most-watched NBA regular season ever.
Viewership was up 29 per cent over last year and the Feb. 22 Toronto Raptors-San Antonio Spurs game on TSN produced the largest regular-season audience ever on Canadian television (averaging 710,000).
If that’s not enough, NBA Canada signed a record 32 corporate partners this year, growing activations by 46 per cent year-over-year; the NBA’s Canadian Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts grew by 20 per cent; and merchandise sales spiked by 26 per cent in a record year for the NBA in Canada.
Yet the real sport business bull-of-the-week is this weekend itself. With 20 meaningful playoff games in the NHL and NBA scheduled over the period from Friday through Sunday night, not to mention the Masters at Augusta, Ga. — the first major of the year on the PGA Tour — and a full complement of MLB and MLS, it is perhaps the best weekend of the year in North American sport, at least in terms of volume of games that matter.
Bears of the Week
They may still hold on to the distinction of being the second richest NBA club in the league — with Forbes Magazine valuing them at US$3.7-billion — but the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t have a great week on any front. They missed the NBA playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. And that’s a painful run for the 11-time league champions and carriers of the Showtime legacy.
They failed to make the playoffs despite the acquisition last July of superstar LeBron James, arguably the best player of his generation. King James’ own stock wasn’t faring much better, given injuries that kept him out of 27 games this season. He showed his frustration by avoiding media after the Lakers’ final game and didn’t score any leadership points by doing so.
Yet the real bearish storyline: Whatever compelled Magic Johnson to announce to a media scrum that he would not be returning as President of Basketball Operations? And to do so without telling his boss first, team owner Jeannie Buss?
The Sport Market on TSN Radio rates and debates the bulls and bears of sport business. Join Tom Mayenknecht Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT for a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans.