I also spoke with Leonsis, and he talked about the value he adds to Team Liquid, as someone with several NBA and NHL lockouts in his rearview mirror. “How do you deal with players and one day a union that emerges to represent the players? I’ve been on the executive committee of the NHL, I’ve worked on the CBA negotiations, and that I think will become important one day,” Leonsis said.
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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.”