Finals notebook: Around the world, fans are watching

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Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) looks on with Miami Heat's head coach Erik Spoelstra in the back ground during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Miami coach Erik Spoelstra makes no effort to hide his excitement or appreciation when journalists from the Philippines join virtual news conferences to ask him questions during the NBA Finals.

In his mother’s homeland, they are most definitely watching the playoffs.

Out of all the measured international markets, the Philippines has the largest average audience for live games during this season’s playoffs — and Spoelstra isn’t the only reason why. They’re huge LeBron James fans there as well, as evidenced by where the clicks are coming from.

When James turned 35 this past December, the NBA did a video of the top 35 plays of his career. It’s been viewed more than 42 million times — with roughly 25% of those clicks, or about 10 million views, coming from the Philippines.

The top five international markets viewing Los Angeles Lakers games on NBA League Pass this season were, in order, Australia, the Philippines, Brazil, Spain and Mexico. For the Heat, it’s virtually the same order: Australia, the Philippines, Spain, Brazil and Mexico.

Fans in China have seen fewer games this season than usual after state broadcaster CCTV suspended its relationship with the NBA last October. Game 5 of the NBA Finals, however, was being shown on CCTV, the broadcaster announced Friday -- and James’ popularity there has been enormous for the entirety of his 17-year career.


NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan are among the inaugural board of directors for the newly formed NBA Foundation.