NBA AM: Global Expansion Is Big Business
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The National Football League (NFL) is king when it comes to professional sports leagues in America. But the NBA’s global brand continues to gain strong momentum in virtually every segment. The league is wrapping up a preseason slate which featured eight contests in six different countries which reached basketball fans in over 200 countries. With two additional contests to be played abroad during the regular season, this will be the most NBA teams to play internationally in a single season in league history.
The league’s popularity, globally speaking, is at an all-time high so it comes as no surprise the league has started to receive a stream of inquiries from international investors about purchasing stakes in franchises.
NBA commissioner David Stern says the interest from global investors is primarily from China, where the league’s revenues continues to show profitable growth year over year.
“We have been approached by, I will say Chinese investors, as we don’t count their money to see whether they are billionaires or multi-billionaires,” Stern said according to Allen Wan of Business Week. “If these markets want to invest in the NBA by buying goods, if they would like to buy television rights and certainly if they would like to buy franchises or invest in franchises, I think it’s a very good thing. I have been in favor of that for years.”
According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, China’s top six billionaires have a combined net worth of over $65 billion which is up over 40 percent compared to prior year. An increase in foreign investors in the league moving forward is all but a certainty after Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov became the first outside of North America in 2010.
At the end of last season, the league featured 85 international players who represented 36 countries or territories. The league also has merchandise for sale in over 100,000 stores, spanning 100 countries and six continents.
But perhaps the biggest driver of the league’s global expansion has been its effective use of social media. The NBA boasts more than 455 million followers and likes combined across all league, team, and player pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Sina, and Tencent. Estimates place nearly half of this figure to be driven by the international crowd making the NBA the top professional sports league on social media.
Andrew Bynum Close To Returning For Cavs?
Former All-Star center Andrew Bynum hasn’t played in a NBA contest since May 2012 while a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to the start of last season Bynum was dealt to Philadelphia but he never logged a minute with the franchise due to chronic knee trouble. This past summer Bynum entered free agency and opted to sign a two-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The deal isn’t fully guaranteed and could potentially be a low risk high reward scenario for the emerging Cavaliers should Bynum bounce back to his old form.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, Bynum weighed over 300 pounds when he signed with Cleveland, but the veteran is now down to his normal game weight. Bynum has already successfully participated in 3 on 3 half-court scrimmages with his teammates without setbacks. The next step will be 5 on 5 action during practice with full contact.
The presence of a healthy Bynum gives the Cavaliers added depth on the interior and strengthens the team’s playoff hopes this season.
The Cavaliers open their regular season campaign October 30, at home, versus the Brooklyn Nets. The team hasn’t ruled out Bynum being ready to go for the opening tip as of yet.
Wall Has Big Plans For The Wizards
The Washington Wizards haven’t reached the playoffs since the 2008 campaign, but will enter this season with expectations to break the drought in 2014. The primary reason for this optimism is the team’s hope that dynamic point guard John Wall will finally blossom into an All-Star performer.
Wall signed an $80 million extension back in July and is undoubtedly the face of the franchise. The guard says this is the most excited he’s ever been to start a season since entering the league.
“This is the most exciting team I’ve played with,” Wall told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports. “They brought back players I enjoy playing with. Al Harrington wanted to join the team. Everybody is professional. Those situations let us know we can be a team that can win.”
Harrington has been impressed with Wall’s character and leadership since signing with the team.
“Every day he’s in here working,” Harrington said. “He’s communicating more. He’s being positive with his teammates. When you’re a leader, it’s not about scoring. You have to bring everybody together at all times. I’m talking to him about it, and he’s listening.
“A lot of young guys are selfish. He’s a team person and a leader. It doesn’t matter if he scores 30 points or four points, as long as we get the win, he’s going to get the credit.”
The Wizards finished 29-53 last season, but Wall missed 33 games due to injury. The guard was exceptional post All-Star break and torched the league for 23.9 points, 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in the month of April.