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NBA PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER MJ, TO PUSH NEW GALAXY OF STARS
Published February 6, 1998
With the NBA's All-Star Weekend in New York, Stefan Fatsis of the WALL STREET JOURNAL examines the state of the league under the header, "NBA Bravely Plans For Post-Jordan Era." The league's "shifting business strategy reveals an industry laying the groundwork for transition ... testing a pack of new players for stardom and renewing sponsorship contracts" before Michael Jordan retires. In addition, the league is "undertaking projects deemphasizing the NBA brand [and] ... extending its international reach." Although Bulls merchandise accounts for "nearly" 20% of total sales, with Jordan's jersey "far and away" the top seller, the NBA "maintains it can handle the ball" without Jordan. Now, the league is working with licensees such as Champion to "identify which young players deserve the most attention." Fatsis adds that NBC is "joining the game plan." During last weekend's Bulls-Lakers broadcast, the network "hyped not Jordan but" Kobe Bryant (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/6). ALL-STAR NOTES: NBC's "Meet The Press" this Sunday will host Stern, Bob Costas, Jordan, Bryant, Tim Duncan and Keith Van Horn (NBAE)....NEWSDAY's Shaun Powell writes that this weekend's NBA festivities are "almost totally restricted to stuffy corporate types and sponsors," with only "a few" tickets made available to outsiders." Powell expects that the Sprewell hearing will "spill over into the festivities and spoil the mood" (NEWSDAY, 2/6). Also in N.Y., Karen Hunter writes an op-ed in the DAILY NEWS and criticizes the lack of tickets for the fans (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/6).