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SBD/7/Leagues Governing Bodies
NBA LOOKS TO THE FUTURE OVERSEAS, AS '94-95 BEGINS
Published November 7, 1994
As the NBA season was set to start on Friday night, including a regular-season game between the Clippers and Blazers in Yokohama, Japan, CNN's "Moneyline" profiled the league, focusing on the game's popularity in Asia. NBA Properties President Rick Welts: "For the NBA, the great economic opportunity immediately is going to be Western Europe, Australia -- more mature basketball markets. But for the NBA, we're going to place such a big commitment on Asia because we believe over the next 25 years, that's where the great opportunity will be." CNN's Bill Dorman says marketing basketball in Asia poses "unique challenges" because there are not many playground courts on which to cultivate the sport. An NBA merchandise store reports sales of $100,000 per month, but notes that after the original NBA Dream Team finished playing, sales dropped by "nearly 80%." Athletic shoes makers are "also eager" to recapture some of that "marketing heat" but face "language challenges" with translating jargon into Japanese ("Moneyline," CNN, 11/4). OPENING WEEKEND REVIEWS: Columns heralding the beginning of the basketball season varied between praise for the NBA for actually playing games, and the challenges the league faces in the post-Jordan/Bird/Magic era. THE ECONOMIST: "The problem is easier to spot than to solve. Basketball is suffering a (temporary?) shortage of superstars and of the dynastic teams they produce" (ECONOMIST, 11/5 issue). In Chicago, Bob Verdi writes, "The NBA has learned an audience is best held captive when regularly scheduled programming is not interrupted" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/6). In Seattle, Jim Moore criticizes the younger NBA players for selfishness: "Coaches aren't cowering yet, but by the turn of the century, the league could be one big grovel pit with managers sucking down to the employees" (SEATTLE POST- INTELLIGENCER, 11/5).