By Kevin Cote, Devi Mahadevia and Evan Shugerman, Strategic Partnerships – Sports

It was one of the most-anticipated, most-watched NBA Finals of all time, with the action on the court certainly living up to the hype. And as Stephen Curry, Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy after their Game 6 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the curtain closed on yet another memorable NBA Playoffs.

NBA fans drove record-level conversation on Facebook, with 32 million people generating 173 million posts, comments and likes around the final six games, making this year’s tournament the most-talked-about NBA Finals in history. The NBA, Golden State Warriors, and Cleveland Cavaliers Facebook pages totaled 98 million video views during the same period (June 4 – 16). Facebook had fans covered with a real-time hub for all the great related content during this year’s tournament, at Facebook.com/live/nbafinals.

NBA_Finals_V3-01

From mid-April to mid-June, the NBA put on a show with twists, turns, engaging characters and unforgettable moments. And along the way, the league, its teams and its fans played a key role in coming together to tell the story on Facebook.

Over the course of two months, the NBA’s official Facebook page generated more than 44 million unique interactions, while the teams garnered more than 61 million. And fans weren’t just liking, commenting and sharing NBA Playoff content, they were also watching videos posted natively to Facebook. In fact, across all NBA Facebook pages (NBA, NBA TV, NBA International, all NBA teams), the league amassed more than 670 million video views.

Exclusive Interviews and Q&As

The NBA, as an extension of the players’ media availability on practice days, produced a number of fun athlete interviews on the NBA’s Facebook Page. “They’re relaxed … the idea was to do something where it gives fans access to talk to their favorite players during the Finals … it’s a way to get involved,” said Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, senior vice president of digital media for the NBA. This exclusive access offered these players a way to connect with NBA fans in a relaxed environment and share off-the-court stories.

Hosted by NBA players such as Norris Cole and C.J. McCollum, the interviews featured fan questions being answered by Klay Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, Harrison Barnes, Tristan Thompson, and even NBA MVP Stephen Curry. In fact, the Q&A with Curry was watched more than 1.4 million times.

Q&A posts have also proven to be a great way to engage fans of the NBA in the post season. As a part of Fan Appreciation Day for the Playoffs, the NBA hosted 21 Facebook Q&As with players (e.g., Jeremy Lin 林書豪, Andrew Wiggins, James Worthy) across all regional NBA pages, spanning all time zones and in nine languages, to further build the excitement around playoffs. These Q&As reached over 1.5 million people in one day with around 4,000 questions asked.

Behind the Scenes and Best Moments

In addition to exclusive content and game highlights, the NBA also posted a variety of behind-the-scenes archival content.

And fans were treated to great moments in playoffs history such as this clip of Kobe Bryant 15 years ago.

Considering that the Finals match-up came down to two of the most-talked-about teams in NBA, it should come as no surprise that the Warriors and Cavaliers Pages generated more than 70 million combined video views over the course of the Playoffs – a testament to the action on the court, the content created by each team, and the rabid fan bases supporting each club.

The LeBron Effect

Cavs star LeBron James dominated the discussion on Facebook during the Finals – double that of any other player – and was generating big buzz throughout the Playoffs as well. Facebook’s data team looked at the overall conversation about the two teams during the Playoffs, and wondered how specific mentions of LeBron James and Steph Curry would map out at the county level across the US.

Facebook LeBron James v Steph Curry Map
The results were a “West Versus The Rest” matchup showing Curry out-mentioned by James in all but 14 counties east of the Mississippi River. Curry “won” pockets throughout the West and was the most-talked-about player in California, dominating the discussion in 48 of 58 Golden State counties.