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NBA Looks To Boost Basketball's Popularity In U.K. In Wake Of Sport's Funding Cut
Published January 17, 2013
CLEAR DISAPPOINTMENT: In London, Rick Broadbent writes NBA Commissioner David Stern is "well placed to raise eyebrows at UK Sport’s decision to axe all funding for British basketball before the next Olympics." Stern said, "Philosophically, it is rather stunning to me. I guess they are going to give it to water polo, pony polo or maybe golf." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver suggested that the decision to cut funding following a disappointing display at the London Games was "short-sighted." NBA execs "would clearly prefer a healthy domestic sport in a target market" (LONDON TIMES, 1/17). Also in London, Eric Short noted the establishment of events such as NBA London Live, as well as a recently agreed upon TV deal that will allow ESPN to show NBA games on U.K. screens for the remainder of the '13 season, "aim to help" the NBA gain popularity among U.K. fans. The hype surrounding today's game "has been enormous" (London INDEPENDENT, 1/16).
BIG-TIME EVENT: New York Post writer Marc Berman, who is in London covering the game, said, "It feels a bit like the NBA finals. You have hundreds of media from across Europe here. Players realise it's a big event." NBA Europe Senior VP Benjamin Morel said the game will be the "authentic NBA experience," with Pistons cheerleaders, mascots and crowd-participating events such as a kiss-cam to break up the time between timeouts" (GUARDIAN.com, 1/16). Knicks F Steve Novak said, "I know that our sport has a global mindset now. ... It’s a good thing that we’re a part of it.” Knicks G Jason Kidd said, "It won’t stop here. There’ll be a team in Mexico soon, too. This is heading to be some kind of worldwide phenomenon, and I think it’s great." Kidd added, "For us, this trip isn’t any worse than a trip to California. But there are other considerations." In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes, "Customs, for one." It took the Knicks "a good three hours to go from touch-down to check-in Tuesday morning, and that’s just not going to cut it for American teams when this is a routine and not a novelty." The logistical difficulties that come with playing games overseas are "why football seems likely to be the first American sport to commit to the Continent, with fewer games and less red tape to slice through" (N.Y. POST, 1/17). The POST's Berman also notes the Knicks and Pistons have "been out and about -- making promotional appearances, visiting landmarks and catching the Chelsea soccer match" yesterday (N.Y. POST, 1/17).