SBD/January 16, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

David Stern Says NBA Teams Are Increasingly Attracting Foreign Investors

Stern (l) said one Middle East investor recently inquired about four NBA franchises
NBA Commissioner David Stern said that league franchises are "attracting more interest from investors outside the U.S. as their revenues stabilise and the value of media rights for basketball increases," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Stern said that he had been "approached last month by a Middle East investor wanting to buy any one of four NBA franchises." Each of the four unnamed franchises "rejected the approach." However, Stern said that the "takeover of some of the 30 NBA franchises by overseas investors was inevitable." Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov "became the first foreign owner of an NBA franchise" when he bought the team in '10 (FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/16). But Nets F Andrei Kirilenko said of a potential NBA franchise in London, "I don't think it's realistic only because of the travel. Maybe if it was its own division like Euroleague in the NBA. So if you go once a year to another continent and play three games there and just be home, maybe it’s going to work like that. But it's definitely not going to work for one game and coming back. It's just physically impossible" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/15). 

THE LONG GOODBYE: Stern is departing as commissioner on Feb. 1 after 30 years, and ESPN's Avery Johnson called Stern's tenure "one of the most successful runs in sports history." Johnson: "What a great commissioner he's been for the NBA. ... The way he's grown the game globally, what he's also done for minority hiring. There's no need for a Rooney Rule like the NFL has for hiring minorities in the NBA. ... David Stern has done a great job and it's sad to see his run come to an end." ESPN's Doris Burke added, "Hard to argue that from where the league was when he started to where it is when he departs that there's been a better commissioner in sports." Burke added NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver "is more than ready for the job" ("NBA Countdown," ESPN, 1/15). Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said that he would give Stern "'an 85 to 90' out of 100 when grading his three decades in charge." Cuban added that his "only bone of contention" with Stern "during his time in the league -- besides the state of officiating -- was the amount of money invested in China at Stern's behest in the continued pursuit of globalizing the NBA brand." But Cuban said, "On the business side, we've agreed far more than we've disagreed" (ESPN.com, 1/16).
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