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June 26, 2012

NBA is No.1 among pro leagues in racial, gender equity

The NBA continues to set the standard in the sports industry for providing opportunities to minorities and women.

The league received an A+ for racial hiring practices, an A- for gender hiring practices, and an A for an overall grade in the 2012 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card released Tuesday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.

The NBA achieved the highest grade for racial hiring practices and overall combined grade in the history of men’s professional sport with scores of 96.8 percent and 92.9 percent, respectively.

Richard Lapchick, the director of TIDES and primary author of the report, said, “The standard for racial and gender diversity is led by Commissioner David Stern. He has continually been at the forefront of the issue and has led the charge for the NBA’s progress in racial and gender equality, which featured an historic set of accomplishments in 2012.”

Lapchick said this was a breakthrough year for people of Asian descent in the NBA with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, a Filipino-American, becoming the first coach of Asian descent to win a championship in a major men’s sport.

In addition, the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin became a world-wide sensation before an injury cut his season short, and Rich Cho was hired as general manager of the Bobcats.

“The evidence for the NBA’s continued commitment to gender and racial equality is seen in the strong grades within almost all of the areas considered on the team level. For the first time in the history of any professional sports league, there were more head coaches of color than white head coaches in the NBA. The number of NBA head coaches of color reached an all-time high of 53 percent,” Lapchick said.

In the NBA league office, 34 percent of all professional employees are people of color and 42 percent are women. The League Office also had 39 women serving as vice presidents in the 2011-2012 season.

Among general managers and top player personnel executives, 26 percent of these positions were held by persons of color, representing the best in any of the men’s leagues.

The NBA continued to have the most racially diverse group of players of the major professional sports. People of color represented 82 percent of all players, and 78 percent of all players were African-American. The NBA also has a strong international contingent with 17 percent of all players from nations other than the United States.

POSTED IN: NBA (143)

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June 22, 2012

Heat championship gear on sale and various locations

Heat championship merchandise went on sale immediately after they claimed their second NBA title late Thursday.

Additional retail locations have been created both inside and outside AmericanAirlines Arena to accommodate more fans looking to purchase Championship merchandise.

Here are the locations:

Inside AmericanAirlines Arena
Miami Hoops Gear Team Store
AmericanAirlines Arena - Mezzanine Level

Miami Hoops Gear Concourse Locations
Sections 110 and 122

Outside AmericanAirlines Arena
adidas Trailers
N.E. 8th Street & West Plaza Ramp (between Gates 1 and 2)

Miami HEAT Championship Tent
Southeast Side

On Friday the following retail locations will also be open.

Miami Hoops Gear Team Store
AmericanAirlines Arena - Mezzanine Level
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
786-777-3008

Miami HEAT Championship Merchandise Tent
East Plaza at AmericanAirlines Arena (behind the Arena; access via Gate 6 or the Southeast side of the Arena).
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Miami Hoops Gear Team Store
Dolphin Mall
1401 N.W. 12th Street
Miami, FL 33172
10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
305-470-1114

2012 NBA Championship merchandise can also be purchased online at MiamiHoopsGear.com (786-777-3004).

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (179)

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June 21, 2012

LeBron third in international jersey sales; Kobe No. 1

The unprecedented international exposure of the Heat’s run to the NBA Finals hasn’t been enough to elevate their stars with fans around the world.

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has the most popular NBA jersey based on the first-ever ranking of international jersey sales compiled by the league.

The Heat’s LeBron James, the reigning NBA most valuable player, ranked third behind former MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.

Dwyane Wade’s jersey was sixth. Chris Bosh, the other member of the Heat’s Big Three, wasn’t in the top 15.

The rankings were based on sales at adidas locations outside the United States during the 2011-12 NBA season.

Earlier this year the NBA announced that Rose had the most popular jersey in the United States. This is the sixth season adidas has served as the official oncourt uniform and apparel provider of the NBA.

The NBA also announced the top five selling jerseys in key regions: China, Europe and Latin America. In China, Bryant has the top selling jersey for the sixth straight season while Rose moved up to No. 2. Bryant had the top selling jersey in Europe and Latin America this season.
James’ highest regional ranking was in Latin America, where he was second. Wade was fifth.

The other player in the 2012 Final to rank in the top 15 in international sales in the Thunder’s three-time NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant, whose jersey was No. 10.

The Thunder eliminated Bryant and the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. The Lakers haven’t been to the Finals since 2010 when they won their 16th NBA title.

Winning five championships have enabled Bryant to remain a popular icon around the world despite the scandal of a sexual assault case in 2003.

The Lakers are the most valuable NBA franchise, according to Forbes’ 2012 rankings, having an estimated value of $900 million.

Here are the rankings:

jersey-sales-world.JPG

POSTED IN: NBA (143)

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June 14, 2012

Heat's Wade writes the book on fatherhood

Sunday will be significant to Dwyane Wade on two counts: Game 3 of the NBA Finals and Father’s Day.

The Heat guard’s life on the basketball court is an open book. He will offer insights on fatherhood in a book due out Sept. 4: “A FATHER FIRST: How My Life Became Bigger than Basketball”

In the book, Wade reveals his thoughts on fatherhood, detailing personal experiences as a parent, as well as his transformation from being the child of a single parent to a single parent himself.

“As a child, I grew up with aspirations to one day be a professional basketball player, and I am living that dream every day as a proud member of the Miami Heat,” Wade said in a statement from the publisher. “However, the daily role I play in the lives of my two children is the single most significant undertaking of my life, and the job I take most seriously.”

Wade reveals for the first time the details of his upbringing and the prolonged battle with his ex-wife for sole custody of his two sons, touching on:

His mother’s struggles as a drug addict, and his growing up in Chicago among gangs, drug dealers and police raids (including an emotional story of young Dwyane finding a dead body in a garbage can).

Wade has never spoken publicly about the prolonged custody battle with his ex-wife. He was awarded sole custody of his sons in March 2011.

He also addresses his advocacy for fathers taking a strong role in their children’s lives, which he cites as the main reason for writing the book. Wade recently teamed up with President Barack Obama to support the Fatherhood & Mentoring Initiative, a national parenting program.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (179)

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June 13, 2012

Thunder blows away Heat in sales of gear

The Thunder not only routed the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, they are blowing them away in merchandise sales during the playoffs.

That national sentiment favors Kevin Durant and Co. over the Heat is reflected in demand for their gear, according to Fanatics.com, a leading online retailer of licensed sports merchandise.

According to Fanatics.com, the Thunder went from selling the sixth-most merchandise during the regular season to selling the most during the playoffs.

Heat merchandise is selling at about half in the playoffs as during the regular season, according to Fanatics.com.

And Durant is winning the popularity showdown of superstars by far. Durant jerseys have sold 30 percent more than LeBron James jerseys, and nearly 70 percent more than Dwyane Wade jerseys.

NBA Regular Season Team Ranking by Merchandise Sales
(Based on sales by Fanatics.com)

1. Knicks (70 percent more than the Bulls)
2. Bulls (Nearly 20 percent more than the Lakers)
3. Lakers (20 pjercent more than the Heat)
4. Heat (40 percent more than the Celtics and nearly 2x more than the Thunder)
5. Celtics (35 percent more than the Thunder)
6. Thunder
7. Clippers
8. Mavericks
9. Spurs
10. Magic

POSTED IN: NBA (143)

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June 12, 2012

NBA Finals expected to stir record amount of social media activity

There will only be 10 players on the court at a time in the NBA Finals, but millions will be actively involved in the games through social media as the Heat and Thunder vie for the championship.

Kenneth Wisnefski, social media expert and founder and CEO of WebiMax, expects activity during the Finals to smash the record for Twitter chatter for a major sporting event. That was set during the New York Giants’ victory in the Super Bowl at 10,200 tweets per second.

Wisnefski believes interest in the showdown between LeBron James and Kevin Durant will play a large part in topping that.

“I expect the NBA Finals to shatter this record and peak at 20,000 tweets per second in large part due to the battle between James and Durant,” Wisnefski said, adding, “social media has built tremendous momentum entering this year’s Finals with more fans and athletes moving the conversion online.”

The NBA Facebook fan page has more than 13 million “likes” which is significantly more than the NFL (5.6 million), NHL (2.4 million), and NFL (1.3 million), combined, Wisnefski noted.

The NBA will be posting behind-the-scenes photos and videos to cultivate this audience.

The NBA has 11 international Facebook pages and 14 international NBA.com sites offering customized in-language content in markets such as Italy, the Philippines, Brazil, Africa, and India.
The NBA has official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Sina Weibo and Tencent QQ. According to a league source, approximately 50 percent of its followers on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are international.

POSTED IN: NBA (143)

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June 9, 2012

Bacardi's Mo-Heat-O helps fans get in spirit of Game 7

Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals presents a challenge to Miami Heat fans as well as the team.

Bacardi, a major sponsor of the Heat, has a special recipe for fans to fuel up and get in the spirit of the showdown finale with the Celtics.

Voila, the Mo-Heat-O.

Here are the ingredients of the spicy concoction:

Mo-Heat-O-bacardi.jpg

Bacardi Gold Rum Infused with Red Chile
Strawberries
Thai Basil
Fresh Lime
MARTINI Prosecco

Cheers! If all goes well, LeBron and Co. can join in the post-game toast.

Bacardi has been one of the Heat’s most visible sponsors, more so since the NBA changed its policy to allow liquor advertising signage at courtside in 2009. The Heat was the first team to take advantage of the lifting of the 18-year ban, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.

When Bacardi signed a seven-year renewal with the Heat in 2008, the agreement reportedly contained a provisional agreement boosting the seven-figure deal by an additional 10 percent if courtside advertising was permitted. The NBA subsequently changed its rules to allow for camera-visible liquor ads provided they contain a message promoting socially responsible drinking.

Bacardi has displayed signage at Heat games for its Grey Goose, Dewar’s and Bacardi brands. Its ads have also been prominent on the Miami Media Mesh outdoor LED system on the facade of the AmericanAirlines Arena. The Bermuda-based spirits company has been primary sponsor of recent Heat road rallies and viewing parties.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (179)

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June 6, 2012

Vegas still sees hope for Heat's Big Three

Gloom and doom is resonating coast to coast about the Heat and the future of their Big Three.

Vegas isn’t writing them off quite yet.

LeBron, Wade & Co. are in a dill of a pickle after Tuesday’s loss at home left them on the brink of elimination with a 3-2 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Will one more loss mean the end of the Big Three as we know them?

Odds-makers say there is still a 78 percent chance LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be playing together in Miami next season, according to gambling guru RJ Bell of Pregame.com. If you believe a playoff failure will lead to a breakup of the gang and are correct, $100 will win you $300 based on current odds at Vegas sports books, Bell said.

The immediate future is not so bright for the Heat. The Celtics are now given a 59 percent chance of advancing.

Even that seems a bit generous to the Heat, considering Boston is host for Game 6 and has two chances to close out the series. Especially considering that teams that have won Game 5 of best-of-7 series tied 2-2 have gone on to win 83.5 percent of those series.

The Heat is a 2-point favorite in Game 6, and is still given the second-best chance of winning the championship of the four remaining teams at 20 percent, behind Oklahoma City at 45 percent. The Spurs are given an 18-percent chance, while the Celtics remain the biggest long shot at 17 percent.

As if the Celtics needed any more motivation to drive the final stake in the Heat and continue putting shots in the face of experts like Paul Pierce did to James on that 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 5.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (179)

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June 4, 2012

'Lefties' Santana, Maher unlikely bookends to surprising Mets weekend

santana-maher-mets.jpg

It was a most unlikely weekend for Mets lefties.

On Friday, Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in the 51 years of the franchise. Then Sunday liberal talk-show host Bill Maher turned up at Citi Field and confirmed he recently acquired a minority interest in the team.

Maher, known for his his left-leaning political satire, would not say if he bought one of the 12 limited partnerships in the Mets for $20 million apiece to infuse much-needed cash in the team in the wake of the Madoff scandal.

The host of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” did take the opportunity to toss out a few jokes and claimed to already being a positive influence on the team, telling reporters: “I mean, let's be honest: They did not have a no-hitter for 50 years, I buy in and I come to town and there's a no-hitter. Draw your own conclusions.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend at Citi Field was not open to debate and was no joke: When play ended Sunday the Mets were in a virtual tie for first place in the National League East with the Nationals and Marlins.

And who in their right mind would have imagined that when the season began?

Photos: Johan Santana made history, Bill Maher made jokes at Citi Field. (Ray Stubblebine/Reuters (Santana), Getty Images file (Maher)

POSTED IN: MLB (112)

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Heat-Celtics Game 4 a ratings bonanza for ESPN

The Celtics were the big winner of Sunday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but nobody benefited more than ESPN.

Not only was Miami and Boston hanging on every shot, but a record-setting overall audience was tuned in on ESPN. The 7.9 overnight rating is the highest for an NBA playoff game on cable television, according to the network.

It was the highest-rated NBA game ever on ESPN in Boston (20.7), the third-highest in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale (19.7) market.

Excluding NBA Finals, the rating was the highest for any playoff game since a second-round game between the Lakers and Spurs drew 8.0 on ABC in 2003.

With two more games assured and a good chance the series will go seven is obviously pleasing to the network, sponsors and the league, which seems to have avoided repercussions with fans from the lockout that delayed the beginning of the season.

It also bodes well for a high-interest Finals, despite small-market San Antonio and Oklahoma City dueling in the Western Finals. The first four games of that series drew ratings on TNT that are up 7 percent from last year’s Western Conference Finals between Dallas and Oklahoma City on ESPN. TNT is reported to be headed for the second-highest rated playoffs in its 28 years of broadcasting the games.

"We want to get to the place where that question isn't asked," Commissioner David Stern said of the small-market effect during a news conference last week. “And for us to mean it and you to believe it. Because no one asks it when you see Green Bay, New Orleans and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl."

The ratings for Heat-Celtics Game 4 were up 10 percent from 7.2 rating for Game 4 of last year’s Eastern Finals between the Heat and Bulls, which was on a Tuesday.

It was up 39 percent from Mavericks-Thunder in Game 4 of last year’s Western Finals, which drew a 5.7 on a Monday night, and up 30 percent from the 6.1 overnight rating for the Magic and /Celtics in Game 4 of the 2010 Eastern Finals, also on a Monday.

Ratings for games on cable have been tracked since 2003.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (179)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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