SBD/7/Leagues Governing Bodies

NBA LOOKS TO THE FUTURE OVERSEAS, AS '94-95 BEGINS

     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).
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