Tag Archives: nba

Strat-O-Matic Does it Again! Simulation Nabs Boston’s 18th Title over Dallas in Five Games

Boston’s five-game win over Dallas in the NBA Finals secured another supremely accurate simulation by Strat-O-Matic (@strat-o-matic), the market leader in sports simulation games, which both had Boston winning in the exact number of games in its pre-finals work through of the games, and tabbed the Celtics as the league champions in its preseason simulation back in October.

And while the Strat-O-Matic simulation team was accurately predicting the basketball finals, its hockey counterpart has been working with NHL Network on game-by-game simulations of the Stanley Cup Finals, and to date has posted four-of-four winners as Florida currently has a three games to one edge heading into tonight’s Game 5.

Strat-O-Matic’s simulation had Game 2 as the closest Boston win, as was the case in the actual Finals, and predicted 20 point Boston victories in Game 1 and the clinching Game 5, which Boston actually won by 18 points each.

The NHL Network’s coverage of the Stanley Cup has included Strat-O-Matic segments, and all four games to date have gone the way Strat-O-Matic’s simulations have finished, with wins by Florida in the first three games and Edmonton in Game 4.

Boston Wins 18th Title over Dallas in Five Games in Strat-O-Matic Simulation

In a battle between the deeper, more balanced Boston squad and top-heavy Dallas, it’s the Celtics who came out ahead in a five-game NBA Finals as Strat-O-Matic (@strat-o-matic), the market leader in sports simulation games, simulated the championships series which begins Thursday in Boston. Fans may recall that the Celtics were tabbed as the champion in Strat-O-Matic’s preseason simulation as well.

Paced by the trio of Jayson Tatum (28.4 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 5.6 apg), Jaylen Brown (26.2/7.0/3.8) and Derrick White (19.4/6.0/5.0), with support from former Mav Kristaps Porzingis (16.4/6.6/2.4) and Jrue Holiday (12.8/5.2/7.2), Boston used that depth to its advantage in taking a 2-0 series lead at home with competitive 135-127 and 128-124 victories.

After Dallas pulled to within two games to one with a 115-108 win at home, Boston took game four, 118-103, and game five back home, 123-103, by more comfortable margins, for its 18th championship.

Dallas’s Luka Dončić led all scorers in the series at 35.6 ppg, nearly averaging a triple double with 9.6 rpg and 9.0 apg, and Kyrie Irving contributed 26.8 ppg and 5.6 apg.

Game One 1 2 3 4 TOT
DALLAS 24 46 32 25 127
BOSTON 39 38 27 31 135
Dal: Dončić 38, Irving 21; Bos: Tatum 36, Brown 25

Game Two 1 2 3 4 TOT
DALLAS 25 29 36 34 124
BOSTON 27 29 38 34 128
Dal: Dončić 35, Irving 31; Bos: Tatum 34, Holiday 24

Game Three 1 2 3 4 TOT
BOSTON 24 29 26 29 108
DALLAS 24 23 38 30 115
Bos: Brown 27, Porzingis 22; Dal: Dončić 43, Irving 24

Game Four 1 2 3 4 TOT
BOSTON 29 25 31 33 118
DALLAS 35 13 29 26 103
Bos: Brown 26, Tatum 24; Dal: Dončić 26, Irving 26

Game Five 1 2 3 4 TOT
DALLAS 30 35 19 19 103
BOSTON 32 37 33 21 123
Dal: Dončić 36, Irving 22; Bos: Brown 31, Tatum 27

The Buck Starts Here: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Milwaukee Jersey Worn During His First Two NBA Seasons Debuts at Heritage

In 2018, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar penned an open letter to that year’s NBA Draft class in which he welcomed them to the “rollercoaster ride that is your rookie year.” Abdul-Jabbar, as accomplished a writer today as he was a scorer during his basketball career, warned the newbies about the “rush of confusing paradoxes, conflicting emotions, competing options, and dubious advice from crusty been-there old-timers. Like me.” At which point, Abdul-Jabbar turned his attention toward his rookie season in 1969, when the 22-year-old still known as Lew Alcindor out of UCLA was drafted first overall by the last-place Milwaukee Bucks thanks to the flip of a coin.

“I found that the best way to deal with the jitters was for me to focus on setting personal goals rather than think about the expectations others put on me,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “And, man, were there a lot of expectations: I’d been the first person drafted and the media directed intense attention at me about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. All the hype left me thinking that this was mine to screw up.”

Of course, Abdul-Jabbar did anything but screw it up: During the 1969-70 season, he led the Bucks to second place in the Eastern Division and was named Rookie of the Year. One season later, he was the league’s scoring leader; the Bucks swept the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals; and Abdul-Jabbar was named the Most Valuable Player for the regular season and in the Finals — of which served as prelude to a legend, as both a Buck and a Los Angeles Laker.

For the first time, Heritage offers in the Nov. 16-18 Fall Sports Catalog Auction a road Milwaukee Bucks jersey worn by Abdul-Jabbar during those historic seasons when the center snagged a league championship and a scoring title — each, the first of many to follow. Photo-matched by multiple third-party experts to crucial moments throughout Abdul-Jabbar’s days as a legend-in-the-making, the jersey serves as a thrilling offering in an auction abounding with palpable reminders of historic achievements and magical memories shaped by titanic athletes.

Resolution Photomatching confirms it was at least worn during an April 1971 Western Conference Finals versus the Lakers and an April 1971 NBA Finals game against the Bullets. Sports Investors Authentication turned up likely matches to several regular season and post-season games, dating from March 18, 1970, to the Game Four title-clinching contest against the Bullets on April 30, 1971. It is graded a MEARS A10 and also comes with a letter of provenance from Patrick McBride, a former Bucks equipment manager.

The jersey is joined in this auction by the 1969 Look Magazine College All-America Basketball Team ring presented to Alcindor in 1969. It hails from The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Collection.

Boston Takes 18th NBA Title In Strat-O-Matic 2023-24 Simulation

After last year’s Conference Finals appearance, the retooled Boston Celtics are all-in on making a run at the NBA title. And Strat-O-Matic, the market leader in sports simulation games, has them earning their 18th crown in dominant fashion in its 2023-24 season simulation, winning 64 regular season games and nearly sweeping through the playoffs, taking 16 of 17 including the Championship in four games over upstart Minnesota.

Denver’s Nicola Jokic (27 points, league-best 13 rebounds, eight assists per game) was named MVP, with the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (27/9/5) second and Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard (27/4/9) third. The trio plus Jimmy Butler (24/5/5) of Miami and Dallas’s Luka Doncic (31/8/8) comprised the All-NBA First Team.

Boston finished five games ahead of Milwaukee (59-23) in the Eastern Conference for the top seed, sweeping #8 Charlotte, topping #4 Cleveland (49-33), 4-1, and upending sixth seeded Miami (44-38) in four in the East playoff rounds. In the Western Conference, Minnesota (55-27), Memphis (51-31), the Los Angeles Lakers (51-31) and Golden State (51-31) comprised the top four playoff spots. The Timberwolves topped #7 Sacramento (47-35) in the Western Conference Finals to advance to its first Finals.

In his rookie season, San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama averaged 19.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

Strat-O-Matic also simulated the league’s first in-season tournament, with Dallas surprising Boston in the final.

Ones Basketball League Starts to Score with Media Partners

Ones Basketball League (OBL) — the first-ever elite competition that will celebrate the most skilled one-on-one players on the planet and created by Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady — today announced its initial roster of storytelling and media partners. SLAM Media, Playmaker, and Heart and Hustle Productions will all help OBL capture and distribute short-form digital content during this inaugural and proof-of-concept season.

“Our initial focus is on short form digital storytelling to capture the journey of our competitors and we know SLAM, Playmaker, and Heart and Hustle are a winning combination to help us shine a bright light on the essence of basketball and exciting young stars headed our way,” said Lisle Bowen, OBL’s Creative Director. “SLAM is the definitive voice of basketball culture, Playmaker has an elite influencer network that will amplify OBL’s reach, and Heart and Hustle Productions’ extraordinary production team will capture all of the rich stories we find on and off the court.”

The three partners each bring a unique expertise to OBL this season:

SLAM Media will co-produce OBL digital content in and around every event this season, build the OBL storytelling platform week-to-week, and drive engagement with its ardent basketball and pop culture audience of more than 16 million.

Playmaker will amplify OBL’s content and brand. expand the league’s social media presence, and integrate Playmaker social media talent into the OBL experience, and expose OBL to an audience in excess of 12 million at launch.

Heart and Hustle Productions’ world-class production team will capture every moment of the inaugural OBL season, produce compelling stories from on and off the court, and ensure the league is well positioned to engage with its growing audience on the platforms and media that matter most.

“What Tracy has created with the OBL is exactly what basketball needs: innovation, fun, and pure competition,” said Les Green, SLAM CEO. “It’s right in line with what we want to provide to our SLAM audience and coming from T-Mac, a living legend and multiple SLAM Cover athlete, makes the partnership even sweeter.”

“OBL is one of the most exciting leagues to come out in a long time. It’s one of those ideas that’s so obviously great that you have no clue why it hasn’t been done,” said Brandon Harris Founder and CEO Playmaker. “At Playmaker, we are obsessed with creating fast paced, high action short form content. OBL could not be more aligned with our brand and content strategy and we couldn’t be more excited to be on this ride as partners from the very start with Tracy McGrady, as well as Lisle Bowen & the amazing OBL team.”

“T-Mac’s idea to create The Ones Basketball League is a revolutionary idea and one that will bring the culture of basketball full circle,” said Rashad Floyd, Founder and Executive Director, Heart and Hustle Productions. “There’s no question how deeply rooted the 1 v 1 competition is to the hoop game and now with OBL, the world gets to witness these matchups on a professional level.”

Beginning this weekend, seven cities across the United States will host a two-day, regional, 32-player round-robin knockout tournament with athletes aged 18 and up who are currently not under an NBA contract and have not been on an active NBA roster for more than 164 games (equivalent to two NBA regular seasons). The participants will come from a combination of open-sourced video submissions and the advice of basketball insiders. The aim is to welcome both best-in-class talent and players who may still be under the radar of most basketball fans. The inaugural events this year will feature only men, and women will be welcomed as equal participants as soon as 2023.

The regional tournament schedule for the first season of the OBL season is:

Houston, April 30-May 1 (The Dub Sports Zone, Richmond, TX)

Atlanta, May 7-8 (CORE4 Atlanta, Chamblee, GA)

Chicago, May 21-22 (Chicago Hope Academy Athletic Center, Chicago, IL)

New York City, May 28-29 (Major R. Owens Community Center hosted by New Heights, Brooklyn, NY)

The DMV, June 4-5 (The St. James, Springfield, VA)

The Bay Area, June 11-12 (The Ultimate Fieldhouse, Walnut Creek, CA)

Los Angeles, TBD (TBD)

The winner of each regional tournament will take home a $10,000 cash prize along with an invitation to the Finals, which will see 21 players (the top three from each region) compete for a chance to win a $250,000 grand prize and be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”

Follow Ones Basketball League at https://www.oblhoops.com/.

Ones Basketball Association Unveils Schedule and Venues for First Season of One-on-One Basketball

Seven-time NBA All-Star, Basketball Hall-of-Famer, and entrepreneur Tracy McGrady today unveiled the regional schedule and venues for the launch of the Ones Basketball Association, a first-ever elite competition that will celebrate the most skilled one-on-one players on the planet.

The first year of regional competition will take place in seven cities across the United States, beginning the weekend of April 30th in Houston and concluding in June. The 2022 Finals for the Ones Basketball Association will take place in July.

McGrady has also announced that media and sports industry veteran Jeffrey Pollack has signed on as a strategic advisor to help lead business planning and operations and create best-in-class events and experiences.

“Our goal this year is to test and preview how we should best spotlight and celebrate the competition, raw athletic talent, and extraordinary skills of these young rising stars,” McGrady said. “We are proud to partner with Jeffrey Pollack, who will help us develop our game plan on and off the court. His input is already invaluable to me, as we take our first steps as a startup league and set the foundation for a global basketball property that will create more opportunities for athletes and fans and tell new basketball stories.”

“In many ways this is the first-ever pop-up sports league,” said Pollack. “We are moving fast, tipping off quickly, and excited to publicly share our proof-of-concept with the basketball community and sports industry. Early feedback will be vital to our planning efforts, and we are ready to test, listen, and learn throughout this first season. Players, fans, and partners will have a rare opportunity to co-create the Ones Basketball Association with Tracy and our team, and it’s exciting to help launch a new celebration of basketball excellence.”

Elissa Grabow, McGrady’s long-time business manager, has also joined the leadership team to help turn McGrady’s vision into reality. “Working for Tracy McGrady for the past 25 years has been the ride of a lifetime and this journey is a true labor of love,” said Grabow. “Tracy is inspired and focused and it all comes from the purest place: his heart. It is an honor to be on this team and help develop the Ones Basketball Association into something special that we believe will build community, provide hope and opportunity, and create a new way to fall in love with the game of basketball.”

Beginning in April, seven cities across the United States will host a two-day, regional, 32-player round-robin knockout tournament with athletes aged 18 and up who are currently not under an NBA contract and have not been on an active NBA roster for more than 164 games (equivalent to two NBA regular seasons). The participants will come from a combination of open-sourced video submissions and the advice of basketball insiders. The aim is to welcome both best-in-class talent and players who may still be under the radar of most basketball fans. The inaugural events this year will feature only men, and women will be welcomed as equal participants as soon as 2023.

The regional tournament schedule for the first season of the Ones Basketball Association season is:
· Houston, April 30-May 1 (The Dub Sports Zone, Richmond, TX)
· Atlanta, May 7-8 (CORE4 Atlanta, Chamblee, GA)
· Chicago, May 21-22 (Chicago Hope Academy Athletic Center, Chicago, IL)
· New York City, May 28-29 (Major R. Owens Community Center hosted by New Heights, Brooklyn, NY)
· The DMV, June 4-5 (The St. James, Springfield, VA)
· The Bay Area, June 11-12 (The Ultimate Fieldhouse, Walnut Creek, CA)
· Los Angeles, TBD (TBD)

The winner of each regional tournament will take home a $10,000 cash prize along with an invitation to the Finals, which will see 21 players (the top three from each region) compete for a chance to win a $250,000 grand prize and be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”

Venues this first year will have very limited public seating, in order to keep the current focus on the athletes, their stories, and the competitive format.
Jeffrey Pollack is a sports business executive and Emmy-Award winner with more than 25 years of leadership experience driving catalytic change, growth, and innovation for family-owned, private-equity-backed, and corporate-based ventures. He was most recently President and CEO of the XFL.

Pollack has been lauded for helping businesses and brands rethink, recalibrate, and evolve, and he has held both executive and advisory roles with the NBA, NASCAR, World Series of Poker, Professional Bull Riders, and Los Angeles Chargers. Pollack is founder of The Sports Business Daily, the original daily trade publication for the sports industry.

The field for each regional tournament, along with content and media partners, elite player ambassadors, and details about the 2022 Finals, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Follow Ones Basketball Association at https://www.obahoops.com/.

FanDuel Group Announces Multi-Year Partnership with Kenny Smith

Kenny “The Jet” Smith, two-time NBA Champion and analyst for TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning show Inside the NBA, is joining the FanDuel Group team as part of an exclusive content deal with America’s #1 sportsbook.

This new partnership designates FanDuel as the exclusive sports betting and daily fantasy provider for Kenny Smith.  Additionally, Smith will appear in FanDuel advertising and TNT promotions featuring FanDuel’s free to play contests.  Smith will also provide unique content for FanDuel Group’s social media channels.    

In addition to Kenny Smith becoming an official member of the FanDuel Team alongside his TV partner Charles Barkley, FanDuel will debut a new free to play game exclusively for Turner Sports.  FanDuel Over/Under will debut Thursday, March 11 when Boston visits Brooklyn at 7:30 PM ET on TNT.  The free to play game, available at https://www.fanduel.com/freegames/over-under will feature between eight and twelve Over/Under style questions.

For the remainder of the NBA season, players will be able to test their NBA knowledge alongside Kenny Smith each night for Over/Under supremacy.  FanDuel Over/Under will be integrated into Inside the NBA and NBA on TNT broadcasts encouraging fans to join in the fun each night for a share of a $5,000 prize pool.  

“Partnering with FanDuel has been a great addition to Inside the NBA,” said Smith. “I am looking forward to collaborating with FanDuel on future projects, as well as, interacting with our viewers each night through FanDuel’s new free to play game that will become a bigger part of our broadcasts.” 

In July 2020, FanDuel Group became the exclusive sportsbook partner for NBA programming on Turner Sports properties including content integrations across Bleacher Report.  Smith alongside fellow FanDuel partner Charles Barkley have been educating viewers on sports betting via FanDuel Sportsbook integrations since last year’s NBA playoffs.    

“Over his 23 years with Turner Sports, Kenny’s trademark humor and insight has stirred the pot and helped make Inside the NBA one of the best shows on television. We’re excited to feature him as part of FanDuel’s branded content across our NBA programming,” said Will Funk, Executive Vice President, Sports Partnerships and Branded Content, Turner Sports.

Smith is the newest member of FanDuel’s deep roster of exclusive sports betting talent and influencers headlined by Pat McAfee and the PMI Team, in addition to Charles Barkley, World Wide Wob, Cousin Sal and JJ Zachariason.  FanDuel has also formed exclusive sports betting partnerships with blue chip media companies like Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, The Ringer, SportsGrid, Entercom and Minute Media.  This is all in addition to FanDuel’s own sports betting and daily fantasy content offerings that includes numberFire, The Duel, an extensive podcast network with a total of seven podcasts and More Ways to Win on TVG. 

“Kenny Smith is an NBA Champion, a beloved NBA analyst, the all-time assist leader at the University of North Carolina and someone whose magnetic personality and smile brings people together,” said Mike Raffensperger, Chief Marketing Officer of FanDuel Group. “We love Kenny on TV every Thursday night, but it’s his positivity and tireless dedication to the community that made us want to add his voice to our brand roster of sports personalities.” 

Weekly Fantasy Sports Provider, OwnersBox, Partners With Industry Leader DailyFaceoff

OwnersBox, an innovative sport-tech company behind the new Weekly Fantasy Sports (WFS) platform is ecstatic to announce that they have partnered with top NHL fantasy sports content site DailyFaceoff.

As OwnersBox gears up for their inaugural fantasy hockey season, the team wanted to expand their reach and make a big splash. Daily Faceoff has been a leader in the hockey space for over a decade and prides themselves on being the fastest and most accurate site for projected and confirmed starting goalies as well as line combinations. They provide daily news, projections, and tools for fantasy hockey players across North America. 

When asked for comment, President & CEO Brian Kipp stated: “As we actively prepare for the upcoming NBA & NHL seasons, we wanted to target a well-known trusted platform such as DailyFaceoff to leverage their network and help grow the Weekly Fantasy Sports movement. I’ve been an active Daily Faceoff user for years and am excited to work with the DFO team this year.” 

OwnersBox and the Daily Faceoff will begin their relationship at the start of the 2021 season and will be collaborating through content, social media & weekly fantasy sports strategy articles. This partnership will allow OwnersBox to keep their momentum going from the NFL season into the new year with the NBA and NHL on the horizon.

Weekend Sports Appreciation Post

credit: Mike Morbeck

by Alex Perel, Special to The Daily Payoff

Nothing major to report in the sports and entertainment today, but we wanted to draw attention to the major upswing in games coming to the forefront. Going into the weekend, the first this year to feature Saturday NFL games, and the 2020-21 NBA season starting on Tuesday, we suddenly have a lot to look forward to in the sports world.

This weekend marks the final Thursday night game of the season as the NFL shifts into its weekend heavy schedule. The Los Angeles Chargers (+ 3 1/2) took down the Las Vegas Raiders in that matchup last night on Fox and NFL Network. The Thursday game will shift to a Friday matinee for Week 16. Both Week 15 and Week 16 will feature multiple Saturday games as well, with both having day and night matchups. Monday Night Football, however, remains on ESPN over the next two weeks. Finally, Week 17 hosts its full schedule on Sunday, as the league traditionally closes the season the same day for all teams.

Of course, Wild Card Weekend and the Divisional Round subsequently follow, both having Saturday and Sunday games. Point being, the NFL is mixing up its schedule to spread games across the next few weeks, so chances are when you flip on the TV any given weekend, you will have an NFL game to watch.

College Football sees a transition from conference championship games to bowl match ups next week, so NCAAF is there as well. The Power Five championships are as follows:

Pac-12: Oregon vs. 13-USC – 12/17 at 8PM EST

Big Ten: 14-Northwestern vs. 4-Ohio State – 12/19 at 12PM EST

Big 12: 10-Oklahoma vs. 6-Iowa State – 12/19 at 12PM EST

ACC 3-Clemson vs. 2-Notre Dame – 4:00PM EST

SEC 7-Florida vs. 1-Alabama – 8:00PM EST

All the great football leads into our biggest development: the NBA regular season’s return this coming Tuesday, December 22. Opening night features a Warriors vs. Nets early contest, followed by the Lakers and Clippers. With the league trying to cram a 72-game schedule into the coming months, we will see more back-to-back sets of games as well as “baseball series.”

In the latter format, teams will play each other multiple nights in a row. This style is uncommon in a normal NBA season, but the new schedule promises an abundance of NBA games throughout the week while you wait for football. Wednesdays and Fridays will be particularly packed with the requisite ESPN/ABC nationally televised packages.

And similar to football, the NBA is piggybacked by the college schedule, which is now entering its full swing of conference play. Check for those games to be typically packed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays on ESPN, FS1, and regional conference networks.

TL;DR: We shoot into the new year with a very healthy dose of live sporting events. Before you look up, we will have hockey and later baseball back, returning to a full slate of the four major American team sports. Get excited for the action packed weeks to come.

ShotTracker Names Bill Moses Chief Executive Officer As Part Of Company Executive Restructuring

DDSports Inc. (ShotTracker), a revolutionary basketball technology that captures via sensors stats and analytics with sub-second latency  and the leading tracking platform among NCAA schools, announced company executive restructuring in advance of a host of upcoming strategic business partnership announcements.

The Board of Directors has brought on veteran sports data industry leader Bill Moses as Chief Executive Officer, while company founder Davyeon Ross will continue with the company as the COO and President. The company’s co-founder, Bruce Ianni, has chosen to depart to pursue other opportunities.  In addition, two other sports business and tech veterans, Tom Masterman and Jason Tilton, have joined the company as VP of Sales and VP of Corporate Development, respectively

“It is a pleasure to join the ShotTracker team to help advance the commercial business opportunities of one of the most innovative and transformative companies in the data and technology side at the NCAA level,” Moses said. “The foundation partnerships with some of the most elite colleges and universities have been built, and we are now ready to push forward with growing that base and expanding the commercial and tactical opportunities in basketball and in other sports with a host of new partners coming on line in the months ahead.”

“Our technology continues to be some of the most widely embraced and supported by college programs across the nation for both men’s and women’s basketball,” Ross said. “Having Bill’s wealth of experience in monetizing and expanding data content, as well as his deep and well respected relationships in media, marketing and technology will be invaluable as we advance and continue to disrupt the marketplace in 2021 and beyond.”

A New Jersey native and University of Virginia graduate, Moses brings with him to ShotTracker his vast experience in working at the nexus of technology and media, entertainment and sports. After serving at the NFL as the Senior VP of International and New Media, Bill joined IBM as the Vice President of Broadband Distribution where he co-authored the IBM digital media strategy and was responsible for developing and executing the company’s corporate strategy in broadband industries.

While at IBM, Moses also held the position of Vice President of Broadcast, Cable and Sports for the company’s Global Telecommunications and Media Division. In that role, he created and launched ventures that resulted in the PGA.com and NHL.com internet sites, ushering the sports business and leagues into the new media age during the 1990’s. He was one of the first to deploy computer-based scoring systems across many of the leagues and helped launch the age of data analytics.

Masterman has spent two decades in sports technology and digital media, with a focus on enterprise sales and partnerships. Prior to ShotTracker, he was Global Head of Publisher Sales at Genius Sports Group, driving data integrations with clients including NBC Sports and USA Today. Tom was also the founding sales and marketing executive for SportsData, which sold to global leader Sportradar. As Chief Revenue Officer, he led the acquisition of enterprise clients including Google, Twitter and Turner Sports. Tom began his career as an Emmy-nominated TV producer and has had several management roles in digital media.

Tilton joins ShotTracker from Genius Sports Group as well, where he was Commercial Partnerships Manager. Prior to working with Genius on their North American business, he was Video Coordinator with the Phoenix Suns and has spent time on the basketball administration side at Long Beach State University and St. John’s University.

ShotTracker currently has relationships with more than 63 Division I men’s and women’s basketball programs and has a growing relationship with Learfield IMG College and their partner schools. The Learfield IMG College sponsorship teams can provide local, regional and national brands visibility associated with ShotTracker’s cutting-edge technology via scoreboard integration, digital/social platforms and experiential activations. Additionally, a growing number of schools with official athletic websites and mobile apps powered by SIDEARM Sports are adding ShotTracker technology integrated into the website and app. The crossover content provides another opportunity for brand visibility and bolsters the second-screen experience for fans.  Broadcasters are also now increasing the use of the depth and breadth of ShotTracker real time data to enhance their broadcasts.

Famer and the NBPA Expand Partnership To Offer Personal Virtual Training on Training Ground One

Famer, the sports coaching and mentorship mobile platform, announced today that it is expanding its landmark partnership with the NBPA with the launch of NBPA Training Ground One. Through the NBPA’s Training Ground channel on Famer, youth athletes will now have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one personal training sessions and receive feedback from some of the best basketball coaches and trainers in the world.

See the video here.

Aspiring basketball players who subscribe to NBPA Training Ground One will receive video workoutsthat focus on basketball training drills, as well as fitness and mental health content from top NBA players and skill trainers. This groundbreaking launch marks the first-time youth basketball players will be able to digitally connect globally and personally train with world-class NBPA grassroots trainers and develop a relationship through skill development and interactive feedback utilizing Famer’s suite of tools like telestration, voiceover and slow-motion capture.

The NBPA and Famer continue to add one-of-a-kind training content from top pros and coaches, all of which can be accessed on the NBPA Training Ground One channel. New training content is being released from current and future NBPA members Bam Adebayo, Cole Anthony, Pat Connaughton, Langston Galloway, Joe Harris and RJ Hampton, top WNBA players and icons Lisa Leslie, and Chiney Ogumike, sports yoga expert Savannah Stevens and grassroots influencers Bobbito Garcia and Remy Workouts.

Since the launch of the partnership in May, the channel has featured training videos with NBPA members such as Aaron Gordon and Andre Drummond as well as NBA-level trainers Chris Matthews and Tim and Ross Burns. Since launching in June, over one thousand athletes from 66 countries and six continents have subscribed to the NBPA Training Ground on Famer with nearly ten thousand total drill video views.

The channel will continue to expand its global reach while driving unique engagement between youth players and professional athletes and trainers.

“At Famer our mission is to empower coaches to positively impact the lives of aspiring young athletes and to democratize personal sports training” said Famer CEO Rich Abend. “This partnership brings pro level training to the masses, and gives NBPA grassroots coaches and trainers the tools they need to work directly with kids anywhere in the world. We’ve combined powerful features like interactive multimedia chat and on-screen video telestration with the world’s best library of NBPA videos covering all aspects of basketball player development, from skills and drills to fitness and the mental aspects of the game. With all the uncertainties families face with the upcoming youth basketball season because of COVID-19, we are proud to be able to provide an affordable solution for player development – whether you are on the court with your team, training at home, or any combination.”

“This next phase of our collaboration with Famer and Spalding allows us and our members to continue to digitally connect with the larger grassroots basketball community throughout this pandemic with new enhanced technology and training content. We look forward to having participants of all ages and skill levels continue to train with us anywhere and to finding ways to continue to innovate with our players and brand partners,” said Chris Jean, Senior Director of Grassroots Basketball & Business Development for THINK450, the for-profit arm of the NBPA.

As a kid I always valued the importance of hard work and the fundamentals I learned from my coaches,” said Bam Adebayo, whose instructional videos will be available on the NBPA Training Ground One. “With youth basketball facing challenges right now, I’m excited that I can help kids train and work on those same fundamentals from anywhere.

“Spalding’s mission is to ignite the soul of the game in everyone, no matter who you are or where you are in the sport of basketball”, said Matt Day, Head of Brand Communications for Spalding. “Now more than ever, athletes need a way to safely work on their game.  Spalding is excited to partner with Famer and the NBPA to make professional-level training accessible to every player.”

Information on the NBPA Training Ground and NBPA Training Ground One program can be found at www.nbpa.com/grassroots or on the Famer App in the Google Play and Apple App Store.

Shares Of NBA Players To Be Available On Jock MKT Starting Dec. 22

Wikimedia Commons/Chensiyuan

Jock MKT (Jock Market), the platform that is turning sports into a stock exchange, announced they are adding the National Basketball Association’s 72-game regular season starting Dec. 22 to allow fans to invest in shares of NBA players across all 30 teams. The announcement marks the third league within Jock MKT’s proprietary algorithm that allows investors to buy and sell shares of NFL, NBA and PGA Tour athletes in real time for real money.

Jock MKT also announced they launched on Android for the first time on Nov. 24. Jock MKT continues to be available on iOS, which launched in Apple’s App Store when the PGA Tour returned during the pandemic. The platform is approved in 34 U.S. states.

“We have seen exponential growth in Jock MKT users and investments throughout the NFL and PGA Tour schedule over the last six weeks,” said Tyler Carlin, Co-Founder of Jock MKT. “We are thrilled to be adding the NBA’s 72 game schedule at a time that will overlap with the NFL’s playoffs and more PGA Tour dates.”

As an example of Jock MKT’s investing power, if a user invested $10 in shares of Dustin Johnson at the WGC–FedEx St. Jude tournament in August and reinvested the compounded winnings at his next eight tournaments, he or she would have netted over $13,000 after his Masters’ victory.

Jock MKT’s main differentiator is their cash market format. Users can join at any time and for any dollar amount. They can buy and sell shares of NFL, NBA and PGA Tour athletes in real time, cash out early by selling to another user in-game or hold to the end and receive fixed Jock MKT payouts tied to final player rankings and overall fantasy scoring. As of Dec. 1, Jock MKT has processed nearly $2 million dollars in orders of shares.

Jock MKT was co-founded by Tyler Carlin, a 2013 graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management. The platform raised its first round of funding led by Will Ventures. Will Ventures’ Founding Partner and Managing Director is Isaiah Kacyvenski, a retired eight-year NFL veteran with a Harvard MBA. Accomplice founding partner Ryan Moore, an early investor and current board member of DraftKings, is also a stakeholder in Jock MKT.

FanDuel Sportsbook Spreads The Love As NBA Tips Off

credit: Keith Allison

Opening night of the Battle in the Bubble will feature the Lakers and Clippers facing off for a pivotal win, and FanDuel Sportsbook is giving customers a chance to get an even bigger win when a legal sports bet is placed on the game. Today, FanDuel Sportsbook, a division of FanDuel Group, will once again bring its innovative Spread the Love ™ promotion to customers to celebrate the return of the NBA on TNT.

For every 2,500 customers who bet on the Lakers in the special Spread the Love Market, FanDuel will move the spread one point in the Lakers favor. There’s no limit to how good this line can get and the line won’t stop increasing until fans stop betting, or the game tips off. New and current customers can place a bet in the special Spread the Love Market to qualify and no matter what spread the bet is placed on – every wager placed in the market will receive the final spread.

“Spread the Love is one of our signature promotions and it’s exciting to watch the line move throughout the day, especially for such an important game on the first night of NBA action returning,” said Mike Raffensperger, CMO of FanDuel Group. “There is no limit to how good this spread can get and it doesn’t matter what line you have when you place a wager, everyone will get the final spread.”

The Lakers spread will begin the day at -4 with odds at -110. Max bet is $50. Spread the Love promotional spreads were introduced into the legal sports betting market by FanDuel in 2019. The Indianapolis Colts wound up with a +51 spread against the Saints last December and the 76ers point spread closed at +59.5 against the Bucks earlier this year.

The FanDuel Sportsbook is available for download today in iOS and Android. To track the line movement throughout the day, follow @FDSportsbook on Twitter.

PointsBet, NBA Announce Partnership Including New Win Probability Metric

PointsBet, a top-tier global sportsbook operator, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced a new multiyear partnership, making PointsBet an Authorized Sports Betting Operator of the NBA.  The partnership marks PointsBet’s first with a professional sports league in the U.S.

As part of the partnership, PointsBet will integrate the first-ever Win Probability Metric across certain NBA platforms, including on NBA.com and NBA social media channels.  Powered by PointsBet, the Win Probability Metric will provide fans with real-time insight toward projected outcomes utilizing the same analytics and statistics that fuel the PointsBet sportsbook.

Additionally, PointsBet will have access to official NBA betting data and league marks across PointsBet digital betting platforms.

“As a tech company at heart, the PointsBet team is excited to work with a league as savvy and forward-thinking as the NBA,” noted Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA. “We’re certainly aligned in looking to present fans with the best experience possible, and we look forward to enhancing the sports betting aspect via the Win Probability Metric Powered by PointsBet.”

“We are thrilled to partner with PointsBet on its first U.S. sports league betting partnership, as they continue to grow their business throughout the U.S.,” said Scott Kaufman-Ross, Senior Vice President, Head of Fantasy & Gaming, NBA. “PointsBet has a unique offering in the marketplace and we are excited to find new ways to engage with fans together.”

PointsBet and the NBA will also work together on best-in-class practices to protect the integrity of NBA games.

PointsBet Announces Early Payouts for All James Harden MVP Bets

Online bookmaker PointsBet announced this week that it has issued Early Payouts on all bets for James Harden as MVP of this year’s NBA season. The Early Payout comes nearly four months before the winner is officially announced in late June.

James Harden (photo credit: Keith Allison)

All PointsBet customers who wagered on Harden to win the 2019 MVP award have received payouts at the odds they placed their bets on those specific markets.

“Our number one goal right now is to provide unmatched value to our customers,” said PointsBet US CEO, Johnny Aitken. “There are many operators in the New Jersey space, but PointsBet is the only one offering unique promotions like these. We want to prove that no one has the bettor’s back like we do, and this is just another example of that philosophy in action.”

This bettor-first initiative is just one of many seen by PointsBet customers since their launch in January, including their most recent NBA Early Payout, where all MoneyLine NBA wagers were paid out early if that team led at Halftime, even if they went on to lose the game. The promotion produced many “Double Payouts,” or scenarios where the team that is leading at halftime goes on to lose the game. In each of those instances, both sides of MoneyLine bets on the game are ultimately graded as winners for bettors.

For more information on PointsBet, Points Betting and how to sign up visit www.PointsBet.com.

NBA Thrillers, Men’s College Nail-biters Lead Thuuz Sports February Most Exciting Rankings

Joe Thornton (Flickr/mark6mauno)

Thuuz Sports, the most powerful automated video highlights production platform for worldwide sports, today announced their February Top 10 most exciting games across all broadcast sports events. While the Patriots Super Bowl win and the NBA and NHL All-Star Games missed the list, the NBA and college hoops dominated for the second month of the year, with both Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors matchups making the list. LSU was on the list twice, winning two nail-biters, and three Boston games made the Top 10.

Using their custom designed algorithms to measure real-time event excitement, Thuuz will provide a unique look into what games have gotten fans the most excited and engaged as 2019 rolls along.  

The game excitement ratings are measured on a 0 to 100 scale and take into consideration game pace, team parity, play novelty, momentum shifts, social buzz, and historical context. The algorithms behind the excitement ratings are statistically calibrated to insure the appropriate distribution of ratings across the duration of a season or course of a tournament.

“We head to March Madness, but February was all about basketball,” said Thuuz CEO Warren Packard. “It is always amazing to show how even regular season games can bring the most excitement, while some of the games we anticipate the most, like the Super Bowl, can fall short. We look forward to seeing what will dominate and surprise once again this month, using our custom ranking system.”

Using the Thuuz excitement measurement platform, the top ten most exciting games were:

1.      West Virginia 104, TCU 96 (NCAAMB): 2/26: WVU outlasted TCU in a triple OT showdown in Big 12 conference play. WVU had 4 players play over 50 minutes in the game, led by Derek Culver who ended the game with 22 points and 21 rebounds.

2.      Boston 6, San Jose 5 (NHL): 2/18: Controversial ending saw the Bruins score a tying goal against the Sharks with under two minutes remaining in regulation, a goal that should have been called off for a high touch. Hockey legend “Jumbo” Joe Thornton scored his 1st hat trick in 9 years, and did it against the Bruins, the team that drafted him. Young D-man Charlie McAvoy won the game for Boston in OT.

3.      Duke 71, Louisville 69 (NCAAMB): 2/12: Louisville was winning 59-36 with under 10 min left in the 2nd half, before Zion Williamson and Duke began a massive comeback that ended in a 2-point victory. Duke freshman Cam Reddish made 2 FT’s with 15 seconds remaining to give Duke their 1st lead since they were up 21-20 in the 1st half. A defensive stand after those FT’s led to an improbable Duke victory.

Mike Krzyzewski (DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen)

4.      LSU 73, Kentucky 71 (NCAAMB): 2/12: #19 LSU defeated #5 Kentucky on a controversial buzzer-beating tip-in for their 1st win over Kentucky since 2009. This incredibly close game was within 5 points for the final 14 minutes of the game, as the 2 SEC rivals went back and forth in a conference showdown.

5.      LSU 82, Tennessee 80 (NCAAMB): 2/23: After a crucial foul by Tennessee with less than a second remaining, LSU’s Ja’vonte Smart drained the go-ahead FT’s and as Tigers beat the Vols in OT. This was LSU’s 2nd victory in 2 weeks over a top-5 SEC team. Smart scored a career-high 29 points in the win.

6.      Los Angeles Lakers 129, Boston Celtics 128 (NBA): 2/7: The NBA’s 2 most historic franchises played a nail-biter in Boston that saw former Celtic Rajon Rondo hit a jump shot at the buzzer to down his former team. LeBron James led the Lakers with a 28-12-12 triple-double.

7.      Golden State 120, Miami 118 (NBA): 2/10: The Warriors were down by 19 before staging a massive comeback and withstanding a late Miami push to win by 2. KD hit a tying 3-pointer for his 25th point in the 2nd half, before getting away with a double-dribble that led to a DeMarcus Cousins offensive rebound and game winning FT’s.

8.      Miami 126, Golden State 125 (NBA): 2/27:  Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade hit the most improbable one-legged, buzzer-beating bank-shot to give the Heat a 1-pt victory. The rematch between these 2 teams saw a very similar storyline play out. The Warriors were down early in the game once again, this time by 24, before staging a huge comeback and holding a 2-pt lead with 8 seconds remaining before Wade sank the Warriors with his game-winner.

9.      Oklahoma City 148, Utah 147 (NBA): 2/22:  OKC came out on top in this double OT thriller behind 88 combined points from their superstars: Russ and PG13. PG13 owned OT as he had a windmill dunk and the eventual game-winning floater with 0.8 seconds remaining over last season’s defensive player of the year, Rudy Gobert.

10.  Milwaukee 98, Boston 97 (NBA): 2/21:  Two Eastern Conference favorites battled in a low-scoring playoff atmosphere as a Khris Middleton hit a critical 3-pointer in the last minute to give the Bucks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Greek Freak led the Bucks with 30 points and 13 rebounds as they improved to 30 games above .500 with this win.

Fast Company Names Top Sports Innovators

Fast Company has announced its 2019 World’s Most Innovative Companies by sector, including sports. Its list is a mix of leagues (NBA), teams (Flyers, Dodgers), media companies (Copa90) and more.

The list is available here, with Gritty the mascot (@GrittyNHL) vaulting the Philadelphia Flyers into the third spot and Levy’s quest to make ballpark food affordable landing the restaurant group in fourth.

The NBA nabbed the top spot, with the editor’s note of the Association’s “improving the game both on and of the court.” The NBA is, for sure, a hot property among sports leagues these days, and though ratings—both national and regional—are down, the growth of its augmented reality app and the NBA 2K league are keeping it growing among the younger set (something all leagues are desperately trying to achieve).

MGM Resorts International‘s “betting big on the future of U.S. sports gambling” earned the hospitality and entertainment behemoth the 10th slot.

Vegas Everyone? NBA Team Could Join NHL in Desert

By Joe Favorito @JoeFav @TheDailyPayoff

Later this week the basketball world will converge on Las Vegas for the annual NBA Simmer League, the annual showcase for unsigned and recently drafted talent.

Hundreds of media, agents and players will descend for two weeks of competition.

However according to a report in the Milwaukee Business Journal this week, The Summer League might not be the only time the NBA goes into the desert before too long. With a new arena on the horizon and millions of dollars on the line, the Milwaukee Bucks have mentioned getting into the Vegas mix should the state of Wisconsin continue to drag its heels on a new arena for the team.

Speaking to state lawmakers on Monday, Bucks president Peter Feigin had a pretty ominous warning should the team not get the desired arena it has been seeking for some time now:

Per the report: “Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin told Wisconsin lawmakers Monday that time was of the essence in approving $250 million in public funding for the proposed arena in downtown Milwaukee or the NBA will move the team to another city. At an informational hearing held by the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, Feigin said the Bucks owners’ purchase agreement for the team includes a provision that construction of a new arena start in 2015. If that does not occur, he said the NBA will buy back the team for a $25 million profit and move them to “Las Vegas or Seattle.”

The Bucks, suddenly one of the NBA’s hottest teams, have been searching for new solutions for the aging BMO Harris Bradley Center for some time, and Feigin, a former Knicks executive, said the team needed to start construction by October or November to avoid the NBA starting a process of seeking buyers for the team. The team’s lease at the BMO Harris Bradley Center expires in 2017.

The demands come at an interesting time for Las Vegas. With talk constant that the city will either receive an NHL expansion franchise or have a team like the Phoenix Coyotes relocate, Vegas as a professional sports destination may actually becoming more real than just the home of the AFL Las Vegas Outlaws before long.

In the mix for teams is how legal sports wagering will be handled in the state. In past years when games were played in the state, the traditional sports books suspended lines on those games. The Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz each played home games at the Thomas and Mack Center for years, and when they did, no line was posted as part of the agreement. Similarly, lines for home University of Nevada Las Vegas basketball and football games have been pulled over the years when the teams were in state.

However this past year the AFL Outlaws not only had lines on their games, but they welcomed live online gambling into the mix as part of their fan experience.

With pay fantasy expanding and both the NHL and the NBA supporting both pay fantasy and the eventual nationwide legalization of sports betting, having franchises in Las Vegas could provide even bigger revenue stream as the process continues to evolve. Those franchises could become models for how legal sports betting could work once Federal law changes.

“Control of all forms of content, whether it is broadcast, digital or actual games is more vital to success than ever before, and with Las Vegas it seems more and more like the distribution of content, combined with a new state of the art building is becoming more than attractive to teams in at least two leagues,” said Dan Cohen, SVP, Americas at MP & Silva, one of the world’s leading sports media companies. “It used to be Las Vegas was a city that had all kinds of negative baggage for sports, now because of the changing landscape in the digital sports and fantasy space, it has become not just attractive but a hub of real conversation when expansion or relocation comes up. Nevada is no longer some fairy tale for professional sports, it is becoming a reality.”

Whether that reality happens in a year or five years remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure; “Sin City” appears to be an open and willing partner for professional sports teams, and now once one comes, others may follow.

High Stakes Game in TV Ratings

By TERRY LYONS, contributing columnist @TheDailyPayoff

American Pharoah’s run to the Triple Crown grabbed our fair share of attention recently, watching intently as the once-in-a-generation thoroughbred won graded stakes at Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont Raceway.

American Pharoah delivered on the track, but his Triple Crown win translated into only 18.6 million television viewers on NBC, down from the 20.6 million fans who tuned into California Chrome’s failed bid at The Belmont in 2014. When Pharoah had the Triple Crown on the line at The Belmont, you might’ve thought the stakes were as high as they’d get ,but as spring turns to summer and the stretch-run at Belmont is in the rearview, there’s no higher stakes in professional sports than that of the TV ratings game.

Certainly the National Hockey League and NBC benefitted from a strong audience lead-in from The Belmont, as Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final calculated a tune-in of 6.6 million viewers for Game 2 of the series between the Tampa Bay Lightening and Chicago Blackhawks, the strongest non-clinching game TV audience since 1994. The data will improve as the Stanley Cup series, split 2-2 as of this writing, moves on to Tampa for a pivotal fifth game.

Meanwhile, after the longest break in NBA playoff history between the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a memorable NBA Finals series, with MVP Steph Curry of the Warriors and the league’s best player, Lebron James of the Cavs doing battle on the court. However, the real numbers are being crunched off the court by the Disney Corporation, the caretakers of ABC Sports, cash cow cable entity ESPN and the NBA on ESPN property.

As of this writing, the 2015 NBA Finals are the highest-rated ever on ABC with Game 4 delivering a 13.9 overnight rating to be joined with the league’s soaring numbers after the first three games of the Finals. Those ratings points translate to some 18.6 million viewers turning into the series, with the numbers — like the NHL’s — sure to go up as the league is guaranteed no fewer than six games to determine the champion.

Delving deeper into the NBA on ABC numbers, the Nielsen ratings in Game 4 were up 31 percent from the Miami vs. San Antonio numbers of a year ago with the ABC ratings averaging 13.1 (overnight), up some 26 percent over 2014. Of course, those are record-setting numbers for ABC Sports and do not factor against the record numbers the NBA did when NBC Sports carried the property. During that run, veteran broadcast chief Dick Ebersol put the pedal to the metal to promote Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to the tune of a Game 6 1998 NBA Finals record rating of 18 No fewer than 30 million tuned into the NBA from United States households, alone, never mind the growing international audience for basketball.

To be clear, the television ratings game of the winter-spring sports, such as horse racing, ice hockey and basketball cannot and will not compete with the television audience for the NFL’s biggest game – The Super Bowl. Last February, the New England Patriots exciting victory over the Seattle Seahawks saw a Nielsen rating blockbuster of 47.5 that translated to a US audience of 114.4 million viewers for the NFL and TV’s biggest audience of the year. Quite simply, there will never be a sporting audience viewing a game on TV that is larger than the NFL’s Super Bowl audience.

The other interesting point of comparison in the high stakes ratings game for televised sports properties in Major League Baseball which saw an 8.2 ratings average and 13.8 million viewers tune into the 2014 World Series, according to Sports Media Watch. Between Jordan’s last game in 1998 and 2008, the World Series consistently out-rated the NBA Finals. But, over the past five years (2010-2014), the NBA Finals has out-rated Major League Baseball’s World Series and the trend is surely going to continue in 2015, unless October brings about a miracle story (Insert Chicago Cubs joke here!)

One other interesting factor in televised sports ratings is to look at the numbers from the competing local markets. In Cleveland, Game 4 of the NBA Finals generated a 45.7 rating for the 20+ point Golden State blowout of the Cavs. In the Bay Area (SF market), the broadcast delivered a solid 30.5 rating. Pretty amazing audience numbers for the NBA which was largely criticized, especially by NASCAR and Fox Sports tv executives, when the 2003 NBA Finals drew all-time ratings lows of 6.5 for the New Jersey Nets vs. San Antonio Spurs series.
That was a long time ago.

Las Vegas Weekend Action Talk

By Frank Scandale @FScandale @TheDailyPayoff

Las Vegas bookmakers are busier in May than accountants are in April, and this weekend has them taking action on more games and sports than Alex Rodriguez has homers.

Each week, The Daily Payoff will attempt to elicit from some well-regarded Las Vegas odds makers what games and events bettors are finding interesting as the weekend approaches.

This weekend, for instance, fresh off the insanity of Deflategate and The Preakness hysteria known as American Pharoah, bookmakers are looking instead at a smorgasbord of sports instead. No one event is commanding as much attention as say the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and the Kentucky Derby, but some money is flowing into everything else.

Conference finals in basketball for one book maker is the focus, while another sees the NBA and the NHL as decent draws because he says the New York Rangers always bring in extra betting.

Johnny Avello Horizontal 2 4Mg“The Rangers are one of those hockey teams we take a lot of money on every year,” said Johnny Avello, executive director race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas. “If it were Rangers and Black Hawks in the finals, it would be best for networks and good for us. But if it were Rangers and Anaheim, that could be an all out war.”

Jimmy Vaccaro, director of the race and sports operations at South Point Casino, is cool on hockey in general, saying it is a niche sport that doesn’t bring in much action regardless of which teams are playing. But the prospect of a Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors final has him excited.

Unknown“Right now, most of us here are rooting for an extra 10-15 percent handle if the Caveliers would play Golden State for championship,” Vaccaro said. ” “It has marquee value and since June is one of the slowest months, we’ll take any help we can get and it would help if Lebron were playing Curry in the finals.”

And while a UFC light heavyweight title fight at the MGM Grand, some college lacrosse semi-final games  and the French Open will all generate some influxes for this weekend, all eyes are already on the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 6.

With the specter of  American Pharaoh being the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Affirmed took the crown, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apBIGFWMFr0 , Avello and Vaccaro both are anticipating a bonanza of business.

“I’m writing tons of business,” Avello said.

“The Belmont will be a very good day,” added Vaccaro. “It might challenge what we do for the Derby. People want to be part of history.”Avello said his top three favorites and accompanying odds are American Pharoah at 10-11, Frosted at 4-1 and Materiality at 9-2. He suggested coming to Las Vegas in person if you are going to bet the race because the odds are better there than at the track and the “hold” percentage is 4.5 percent in Las Vegas as opposed to 16 percent at the track.

Vaccaro said it doesn’t matter what other horses are in the race from his point of view. All the betting is on whether Amerian Pharoah wins or loses.

“Most of the ticket will be on American Pharaoh. When you get into these situatons, a lot of people are buying $2 and $5 tickets and they won’t even cash them. They’ll just take them home. A lot of souvenier hunters will gobble them up.”

After the Triple Crown, the next big thing looming is the U.S. Open golf championship starting the week of June 15. VegasInsider.com, for instance, has Rory McIlroy as the the 7-1 favorite, with Jordan Speith next at 17-2 and , believe it or not, Tiger Woods at 15-1.

Vaccaro said only the Masters golf tournament generates any real financial excitement of all the majors.

“The Masters is quite different,” he said. “Tiger’s influence is waning each year he doesn’t win anything, but he still draws, just not as much.”

And then there’s baseball.

“Then summer kicks in middle of June, and you can bet any sport you want, as long as it’s baseball,”Avello cracked.

Before the season started, he said odds makers were seeing the favorites as the Angels, Tigers and Boston. “A lot of teams people were expecting big things from. But now the Royals are playing well and the Astros are getting big play. It’s still a long way to go and there will be more (odds) changes.

“In the National league, the Nationals, the Cardinals and the Dodgers are still the favorites,” he added. “But there are a lot of teams in the mix. People are betting the Mets, the Padres, and the Cubs all the time. “


“Yankees are in a division that is up for grabs. When the dust clears, one of the five teams can win.”

For now, the Yankees are 16-1, he said.

But if you want to load up an a real long shot for next month, look at Bradley Neil and Gunn Yang. Who? Right.

But both are 2,000-1 to win the U.S. Open