It was as though last season never ended. On Tuesday night, fans crammed into Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, to resume where they left off in June: singing, dancing, jumping and yelling as their Golden State Warriors tipped off the 2017-18 NBA season. The reigning league champions are pursuing an unprecedented fourth-straight NBA Finals appearance – and third championship in four years.
And this time, Rakuten is in their corner. As superstars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and their teammates took to the court against the Houston Rockets, they sported brand new jerseys complete with Rakuten badges. As the team’s first-ever jersey-badge partner, Rakuten was also showing its support in signage set up throughout the arena.
The Warriors got underway in typical fashion, displaying the free-flowing attacking style that has become the model for modern basketball. With both teams known for their strength in offense, the Warriors and Rockets were destined for a high-scoring match-up, and fans were not disappointed. The Warriors’ teamwork-focused strategy proved immediately effective as they dominated the scoreboard for almost the entirety of the game, racking up 34 assists and maintaining a three-point percentage of 53.3%. With the stats heavily in the Warriors’ favor, the enthusiastic “Dub Nation” had plenty of reasons to be excited in the packed arena.
But Oakland wasn’t the only place feeling the hype. Across the Pacific, Rakuten.TV was delivering all the passion, entertainment and excitement to viewers in Japan – in real time. Rakuten.TV users were able to sign up for the brand-new “Rakuten NBA Special,” a pass giving access to a selection of live games, including Tuesday’s season-opener.
Rakuten.TV’s livestream was made possible by an exclusive media and marketing partnership announced Oct. 10 by Rakuten and the NBA, the most comprehensive of its kind for the league ever in Japan.
The partnership comes as part of an NBA push to expand outside of the U.S., and gives Japanese basketball fans more access than ever to their favorite sport.
On Tuesday, the fans in both Oakland and Japan were treated to a thrilling finish. The Rockets chased the Warriors the entire game, taking a 17-point deficit and finally turning it around in the last 45 seconds. A jump-shot on the buzzer from Kevin Durant, which would have put the Warriors in front, initially sent the home crowd wild, but the official review revealed he was a fraction of a second too late – the ball hadn’t left his hand as the clock struck zero. And so the game ended, 122-121 to the Rockets.
But, as was tweeted post-match on the official Warriors account, “It’s only 1 game. Next time, #DubNation.”
We can’t wait!