The NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers tips off Thursday night on ABC, and so far, LeBron James is winning the battle on Facebook. Over the course of the playoffs, Facebook’s research team sifted through millions of Facebook comments, posts, and likes to create a Conversation Map, displaying who was mentioned more on the social network: the Warriors’ superstar Stephen Curry or the Cavaliers’ superstar Lebron James. As usual, James was the undisputed king.
The research team tallied all the data from the start of the NBA playoffs on April 18. Since then, 26 million people on Facebook have created more than 165 million posts, comments, and likes about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. James, the 4-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), has his kingdom firmly set in the East and South. Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and the team’s home state of Ohio mark eight of the 19 states where James was mentioned more than Curry in every county.
Curry is the reigning MVP in the NBA, but not the most talked about NBA player. He did not win every county in any state, although he was the most talked about in 48 of the 58 counties in California. However, Mecklenburg County, where Curry led its Davidson College basketball team on an improbable run to the Elite 8 in the 2008 NCAA tournament, mentioned James more than Curry.
The glaring disparity in popularity between the two superstars is not remotely shocking. James is playing in his fifth straight NBA Finals, has won four of the last seven MVP awards, and his jersey has been the highest selling in the NBA for the past six years. Curry plays in the Sunshine State but that’s a candle next to the sun when compared to the man that many consider the best player in the world.
In addition to tracking which player is more popular on Facebook, the social network will also facilitate a real-time fan experience, highlight posts and updates about the game, and host live video chats with two players and their fans.
The Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova and the Warriors’ Klay Thompson will answer questions from fans on Facebook in a live video chat. The chats will be hosted by Portland Trail Blazer C.J. McCollum. Thompson’s session will happen at 3:35 P.M. EST and Dellavedova’s chat will happen at 4:05 P.M. EST. The live chats can be viewed on the NBA’s official Facebook page.