After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NBA will once again move its preseason and regular season games overseas in an effort to become more global by reaching new markets.
Mark Tatum, deputy commissioner of the North American Basketball League, told AFP that there are more markets that want more games than we can.
“The world is a very big place, we have played in many places, but there are still many opportunities,” the leader emphasized, pointing to countries such as Germany, Italy and Greece as possible new destinations.
“At some point we will go back to India … and I can think of pre-season and regular games in Africa,” added Tatum.
In the coming months, the NBA will host games in Japan and Abu Dhabi in preparation for the 2022-23 season, which begins on October 18.
Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors, the reigning champions, who feature young Japanese power forward Rui Hachimura, beat the Washington Wizards on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 at the Saitama Super Arena on the outskirts of Tokyo, where they beat the United States last year. Olympic gold medal.
Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA champions in 2021, and the Atlanta Hawks will play their first NBA games in the United Arab Emirates on October 6 and 8.
“They have a world-class facility. They know how to do things right,” praised Tatum.
As of the 2019-2020 season, the last completed before the outbreak, Mexico City and Paris will host regular season matches. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will meet in Mexico on December 17 and the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons in Bercy on January 19.
“For (Detroit French point guard) Killian Hayes, it’s going to be great to play in his hometown,” Tatum said.
70% of the NBA’s social media presence is outside of the United States. Although the league’s telecasts reached 214 countries last season, in more than 50 languages, Tatum recognizes that honoring foreign games is an “important part” of the “business strategy.”
“For hundreds of millions of fans around the world, there’s nothing like going to an NBA game,” he emphasized. “It’s a way to bring cultures together and bring people and our fans together.”
Since 1978, the NBA has scheduled a total of 205 games outside of the US and Canadian locations in 20 different countries.
China remains a particularly strategic market for the NBA, a position that was rocked by a diplomatic incident in October 2019 when then-NBA executive director Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters.
The NBA, which refused to take action against Morey as requested by Beijing, has suffered huge losses due to the crisis with China, whose officials have suspended the league’s broadcast until March this year.