SBD/March 2, 2011/Franchises

Games In London Present Another Opportunity For Nets To Grow International Profile

Nets' ability to win fans in Russia likely key to success of European ventures
The Nets, owned by Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, "get another chance to raise their international profile when they play the Toronto Raptors on Friday and Saturday in London," games that are part of a "mission to become the face of the league outside the United States," according to Chris Lehourites of the AP. The games, the first regular-season NBA contests in Europe, follow a "preseason trip to China last year and a basketball clinic in Russia before that, and precedes the move to the New York borough of Brooklyn in 2012." Nets CEO Brett Yormark: "We're very excited about what's in store for this team, and I think over the course of the next 18 months, 24 months, you'll see us more active globally." The Nets "see themselves as the link between American sports and fans outside the United States in part because of their Russian owner, European players on the roster, several international sponsors and the upcoming move to Brooklyn." That "works for both the Nets and the NBA, which would like to see more teams emulate New Jersey's international drive." Nets Chair Christophe Charlier: "Whereas the other teams are focusing on their local market or their state market, we're trying to attract fans over here in Russia and London ... in China and elsewhere, to become Nets fans. And be the team that's most accessible to fans around the world." Russia is "likely to be the key to the success of the venture," and the Nets "already have a Russian-language website and a deal with a TV network in the country to broadcast games" (AP, 3/1).
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