Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 16th 2014 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, June 16, 2014
MIAMI---An hour before Game 4
of the NBA Finals, LeBron James
was talking about the World Cup.
A couple of Brazilian journalists
nodded excitedly as he spoke, perhaps
in part because soccer s signature
event is being hosted in their futbol-
mad country. Chinese journalists were
there as well, logging every word that
James was saying because of his enor-
mous following in their homeland.
So were French, Italian, Filipino and
German reporters, among others.
"The world," Heat forward Shane
Battier said, "is getting smaller every
And that s plenty evident at the
NBA Finals, which are perhaps more
global than ever before.
The Miami-San Antonio series is
being aired live in 215 countries and
territories, talked about in 47 lan-
guages, and has attracted social media
attention from literally all corners of
the globe through the NBA s Facebook
and Twitter portals alone. The Spurs
have nine international players and
the Heat have a huge international
following because of stars like James
and Dwyane Wade, along with the
fact that coach Erik Spoelstra is Fil-
Soccer is clearly a global game,
which has been obvious forever.
Basketball can say the same, and
that s been clear for a long time.
"Now you re on TV every night
no matter where you play, the cov-
erage through the playoffs and
through the finals," Spurs star Tim
Duncan said. "You go anywhere in
this world and you have fans every-
where. Fans of the NBA, fans of indi-
vidual players, and obviously a lot of
us travel in the offseason, and no
matter where you go, you can t get
away from it. So you can feel how
far spreading it is, and it s great for
the game. It s great for the NBA."
International growth has been a
key part of the NBA s business model
for years, so much so that former
commissioner David Stern often and
famously said that the league would
have teams in Europe within a decade.
There s an international broadcasting
compound at the finals now, and the
series courtside logos and signage is
being shown in eight languages ---
Chinese, French, Hindi, Japanese,
Portugese, Spanish, and Turkish.
Oh, and English.
"This game has fans around the
world now," said James, whose arrivals
in China for his summer visit to pro-
mote some of his many sponsors have
drawn enormous crowds of screaming
fans. "And that s very important to
me. That s very important to this
league. That s very important to all
Wade, Battier and Tony Parker all
have shoe deals with big Chinese
companies, Wade with Li-Ning and
Battier and Parker with Peak.
It s not uncommon to see those
shoe companies have ad signage in
Miami s arena, and the Heat not long
ago also had a prominent sponsor
agreement with a Chinese beer com-
pany. The NBA has research showing
that 300 million people play basket-
ball in China---which equates to
roughly the entire population of the
Parker, a Belgian-born guard who
plays for France and had a big inter-
national following even before signing
with Peak last year, toured China ---
home of the world s second-largest
economy, behind only the United
Battier went to China once, a few
years ago, on vacation. He figured
he d never have any other reason to
He s been 10 times since. All have
been for work.
Battier was skeptical when Peak
approached him at first and ques-
tioned if the shoes would even be of
NBA-quality, but said the deal has
been extremely beneficial and satis-
fying for him. And while this is his
final season, he s long predicted that
there will be an NBA team in China
or another faraway place in the future.
"International growth and expan-
sion is the obvious outlet for our
game," Battier said. "I think that
domestically, we ve tapped pretty
much every pigeonhole and foxhole
we can find.
"Because the game is so popular
globally, it s only a matter of time
before we take our game in person
to our fans around the world. The
logistics argument is always the argu-
ment that detractors want to bring
up, but it s inevitable."
This file photo shows San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker answering questions
during a media availability after NBA basketball practice, , in San Antonio.
Parker, a Belgian-born guard who plays for France and had a big
international following even before signing with Peak last year, toured
China, home of the world's second-largest economy, behind only the United
States, last summer. AP PHOTO
has world appeal
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