The Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks have advanced to the championship rounds of their respective leagues, the ninth time a metro region has hosted the NBA and NHL finals at the same time. It marks the first time those sports have simultaneously contested their finals west of such subzero climates as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. For fans, it has been a thrilling, exhausting spring, summoning game faces night after night — sometimes on the same night — for two “home” teams. “There have been a lot of late nights over the past month,” said Dan Fisher, a Sharks season ticket holder. He watched Monday night’s Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Britannia Arms in downtown San Jose, despite the periodic “annoyance” of the Warriors’ Game 7 win over Oklahoma City playing on many of the bar’s TVs.
More than half of the city’s residents were born outside of Canada, so in some ways the globalization of basketball is coming home to roost, with immigrants bringing their interest in the sport as they settle into a pre-existing NBA market. “I feel like basketball is the biggest thing in Toronto,” said Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, the Toronto native who was the first pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Bigger than hockey? “I think so,” Wiggins said. “I think it changed over.”
Oculus Rift is Facebook’s virtual reality headset, and it could make them huge profits by changing the way we consume sports in the future. Much of the excitement about Oculus Rift, which Facebook acquired for $2 billion last March, was about its role in the video gaming world. Many saw Oculus Rift revolutionizing gaming by creating far more immersive e-worlds than ever before. However, now, Oculus Rift and other virtual reality vendors are rumored to be looking to use this technology to produce an infinite amount of courtside seats that it could sell to sports fans.
Sources say Sperling and Bartoszek realize the NHL likely will come here first, given the NBA’s reluctance to expand. But sources say both remain open to adding an NBA team later. Bartoszek is vacationing abroad and could not be reached.
A united front among all the leagues would certainly help Silver’s cause for a federal solution. The other leagues have — at least publicly — not wavered from their anti-legalization stance after the op-ed. MLB declined to comment for this story, and the NFL refused to even reiterate its anti-legalization stance. Gary Bettman, the longtime commissioner of the NHL, told CNN in November after Silver’s op-ed was published: “I think there needs to be some attention paid to what sports is going to represent to young people. … Does it become a vehicle for betting, which may in effect change the atmosphere in the arenas?” But multiple sources with direct knowledge of meetings between the leagues believe the NHL is much more open to legalization than Bettman’s comments indicate. And the NHL and MLB are both currently partnered with daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings.