It is all about branding.
10-20-18 STFLA #1378
The National Basketball Association season is underway but the Commissioner Adam Silver, his staff and the 30 owners are looking into the future and expanding the brand. There is some global expansion that is apparently being considered with pre-season games in India and Japan added to the list of where the NBA could play in late September or early October preparing for the season. India has been on the NBA’s radar for a while as the league started a basketball program in the country in 2013 and the NBA Academy India in 2017. India has never been a country that North American sports leagues have spent much time thinking about in the past but that might be changing. Baseball has been played in India since World War II when American soldiers were stationed there. In 1983, the Amateur Baseball Federation of India was founded. Two pitchers from India played low level minor league baseball and their stories were turned into a film called the Million Dollar Arm.
The NBA is not looking for players to star in a movie but the league is looking for a million dollars, probably a lot more than a million dollars. A game in India would be an opportunity for owners to sell NBA logos on t-shirts and hats in a big market. The NBA would also like to find players who can be on league rosters. It can be argued that the NBA and basketball only trails soccer on the global stage in popularity but cricket is a big sport in India and an India-Pakistan cricket match could get more viewers on TV than the entire population of the United States. The NBA going to Japan in 2019 in the pre-season makes sense. The 2020 Olympics, which will feature NBA players will take place in Tokyo. The NBA is broadening its global reach.
I’m Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business.