Remy Williams Tony Garry | PhD Services and Relational Marketing 28 February 2019 The NBA: A Global Service To me, there is no service a corporation provides that delivers such a high level of entertainment more than that of a professional sports league. The best being the NBA of course. Adam Silver, a Duke University Fuqua School of Business graduate, has transformed the NBA from a regional service for local fans to a worldwide global service enjoyed by all cultures. It’s clear that the NBA is rapidly growing beyond its US borders. Some reasons for this are the lucrative television deals that are increasing viewership, the influx of international players that are creating new fanbases, and the rise of international play for NBA teams. These factors are altering the NBA from an American sport to a global pastime. On opening night this year, NBA rosters featured 108 international players from 42 different countries. That is a significant increase from the 84 international players on roster in 2011. As of today, American Football is the most popular sport in the United States, and soccer is the most popular sport in the world. However, basketball is on track to become the new king of international sports. This essay will explore three factors that are causing the service’s international explosion and go into detail on how these factors are affecting the leagues rapid growth. The Players International players have slowly become the face of the NBA, at least for the younger generation of fans. Kristaps Porzingis from Latvia was just the star of the free-agency frenzy and has given fans a reason to go to an NBA game in Dallas, while Canada’s Andrew Wiggins is looking to do the same thing in Minnesota. Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka The Greek Freak, of Greek and Nigerian descent, has emerged as one of the best players in the league and almost surely will become the next great big man in basketball. Joel Embiid, known for his larger than life personality and social media presence, is currently the star of Philadelphia by way of Cameroon. At 6’10”, Australia's Ben Simmons is one of the most outstanding point-guards the league has seen since Magic Johnson and was recently crowned the league’s Rookie of the Year. All of these international players have injected new life into the league and have given excitement for fans abroad. Why is this important? Why do these players alone have such a big impact on the sport of basketball and the growth of the NBA? It’s because, unlike other sports and leagues, basketball players in the NBA are the reason the league succeeds. The NBA has the most effective union in all of professional sports, so NBA athletes have a better playing career with more rights than the careers of those in other professional sports leagues. In addition, team rosters in the NBA consist of 13 players; compared to the NFL and MLB, in which teams have 53 and 25 players, respectively, basketball players receive a larger share of the profits in the NBA which gives the players a greater opportunity to have the spotlight on them. Basically, there is a better chance of a player in the NBA to not only matter but to also make headlines and news stories than players in other pro sports leagues. Player stardom is the ultimate answer for the NBA’s strong growth. The new faces I mentioned earlier combined with some of the world’s biggest names like LeBron James and Stephen Curry have exploded the league to new heights. Global Outreach The four major sports leagues in the United States are the NBA, the MLB, the NFL, and the NHL. Before the summer of 2015, none of them have had a player drafted out of the country of India. Satnam Singh Bhamara made history in America as the first Indian born athlete to be drafted by a “Big Four” sports league. The 7'2'' center attended IMG Academy in Florida, and he had the opportunity to attend the prep school because of the NBA's programs in India that had the attention of scouts and teams. This is a shining example of the NBA's successful moves towards globalization. The league saw an opportunity, in a country dominated by cricket, to boost its popularity and invested in outreach programs to grow its brand. Another global outreach program that the NBA has is one called Basketball Without Borders. Basketball Without Borders is the NBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program that unites young basketball players to promote the sport and encourage positive social change in the areas of education, health, and wellness. Basketball Without Borders has been staged in eleven countries and territories on five continents since the inaugural camp in 2001. The program has featured 350 NBA players, coaches and team personnel from 30 different teams as camp coaches and mentors for over 1",500 young athletes from more than 100 countries and territories. Some players who have come from the program and into the NBA are Luc Mbah a Moute, Enes Kanter, Marco Belinelli, and Danilo Gallinari. Because of the league’s global programs like Basketball without Borders and its programs in India, the growth the National Basketball Association has seen and will continue to see is unprecedented. China There is no place that is bigger for the NBA than China. China, the world’s most populated country, absolutely loves the NBA. The official NBA WeChat account, the largest mobile message platform in the country, is the most followed sports account on the platform and attracts one million total reads per month. The NBA capitalized on viewership in China in 2015, when the league agreed a five-year partnership worth a reported US$500 million with Chinese tech giant Tencent – the NBA’s largest international partnership to date. Tencent, which boasts 963 million online users, was given digital broadcasting rights for all NBA content. The 2017 NBA Finals attracted nearly 200 million viewers from China on mobile alone. The NBA is now the number one followed league in China online; seven times more discussed and with five times more followers than the top three European soccer leagues combined. The relationship between the NBA and China really took off in 2002 when Yao Ming became the first international player drafted number one overall in the draft. Yao is now a Hall of Fame legend and a global ambassador of basketball. Not surprisingly, the NBA utilized Yao’s presence and status to grow the league and sport in China. In 2004, two years after Yao joined the league, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to play in China with a pair of Rockets’ preseason games. Now, the NBA host pre-season games in China every year and to attract families to the league, opened NBA Playzone, an indoor themed entertainment center for families in Shanghai as just another way they are connecting to fans and building their global brand. Furthermore, exhibition games, family-oriented interactive experiences, and meet-and-greets to familiarize the Chinese with NBA stars have also enabled the league to capitalize on a virtually untapped market of more than one billion people. IBA (International Basketball Association) In conclusion, it appears that the world is embracing the service provided by the NBA as the leader of international sport. More than ever, games are being played outside of America and Canada, and international programs are developing talent across the world. Given the interest, and given the financial opportunities that are out there, this global growth isn’t stopping anytime soon. It’s exciting to think that the name National Basketball Association doesn’t even make sense anymore. The future could very well be an International Basketball Association that features teams from different cultures and backgrounds competing as one league. That’s because basketball is an international sport that has growth and diversity at the cores of its beliefs.