NBA Commissioner: Basketball remains second to football-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
FOOTBALL'S popularity remains unmatched in the world, outgoing National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner David Stern said Thursday, even if the league has grown leaps and bounds under his watch.
"I think that football has a grip on the world that should be both admired and respected. But it's okay to be number two all over the world," he said.
Stern, who is set to retire in February 2014, led the NBA's international growth. After he took over in 1984, the 30-member league has turned into a $5-billion industry. NBA games and programs are seen in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages.
It has also built one of the largest social media communities in the world, gathering 455 million likes and followers for the league, teams and players.
In particular, Stern took pride of the Philippines' unwavering support for basketball and the NBA.
"The Philippines has a population of 100 million or so, so they're a very important part of our Southeast Asian strategy, and we're using what we've learned here to take further steps. We're working very hard to develop retail stores, to develop an NBA Cafe, and to further develop our relationship with Solar (television partner)," he said.
Outside the Philippines, Stern is looking at holding basketball clinics through Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA in football-crazy nations Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. He is hoping that they can ink television deals in all Southeast Asian countries by the start of the season.
Plans of having a division in Europe—the hotbed of football—is also a "distinct possibility," Stern said.
"It's something that we're studying more carefully than you might think, not so much with NBA teams but with NBA-sponsored competitions with partners. We think that's another way to extend the focus on our sport, because at the bottom of what we're trying to do is to get more and more kids playing our game," he said.
The league is in the middle of starting a program in India to introduce a million and a half Indian kids to basketball, a nation of 1.2 billion known for its passion for cricket.
"There's a lot of room for growth," said Stern. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)