National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern said in a campus discussion yesterday that he will not expand the league any further in the United States, adding that global expansion will be the NBA's next major project. In a speech at Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, Stern said he envisions a two-step process that would further media coverage abroad of current NBA games while possibly extending the league to other cities around the globe. Currently, 71 countries now receive some broadcasts of the 27 NBA franchises. Stern said he expects this number to soon increase because of the mass privatization of radio networks world-wide, several of which need more programming. Stern added the NBA has already developed an international flavor, with as more and more players from other countries joining U.S. teams. Before a packed audience of nearly 200 people yesterday afternoon, the 48-year-old commissioner said that at its present rate, the NBA will become a major player in world business. For instance, in just the last five years, league revenues have skyrocketed from $200 million to over $650 million per season. In addition, since Stern was elected to become the fourth NBA commissioner in 1984, NBA merchandise retail sales have increased from $44 million to over $300 million in 1988. Stern, in his hour-long presentation, said the globalization of basketball will also be helped by the decision to let NBA players participate in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Stars such as Michael Jordan, whom Stern humorously called "the most well known entertainer in America before Madonna did her new video," will be televised internationally. Interspersing his comments with humorous remarks, Stern also detailed the importance of recruiting corporate sponsorship saying that basketball has become more than just a sport. With a smile, he informed the audience that Coca-Cola is the "exclusive soft drink of the NBA" and that the real name for the Slam Dunk contest is the Gatorade Slam Drunk Competition. He added that the commissioner really serves as a "brand manager" saying that basketball is easily promoted due to its high "brand recognizability and brand esteem." In his speech, Stern described how the NBA overcame negative perceptions to successfully promote the "emergence of teams as marketing forces, which has been nothing short of extraordinary." He said the most most important step in resolving the NBA's image problem of a decade ago was the development of landmark Collective Bargaining and Anti-Drug Agreements between the owners and the Players Association. The Collective Bargaining Agreement placed a salary cap on players' salaries in exchange for profit sharing while the Anti-Drug Agreement set penalties for players' testing positive for drug use. With both of these issues resolved, the commissioner and the 27 franchise owners could then concentrate on selling basketball to the public. People attending the speech, which was part of The Wharton School Zweig Executive Dinner Series, said they were impressed with Stern's evaluation of the NBA. "He gave a very good overview of how the NBA got out of its doldrums of the early '80s and into the position in which it finds itself now," said Obi Khan, a second-year Wharton graduate student.Comments powered by Disqus
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