Report: NBA Looking to Start Pro League in India

by January 20, 2012
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According to Bloomberg, David Stern has his eyes set on India, as he continues to relentlessly expand the NBA brand globally: “National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern has held talks with executives at IMG Worldwide Inc. about establishing a professional league in India, two people with knowledge of the discussions said. IMG, the New York-based sports-management agency that represents Roger Federer, and Reliance Industries Ltd., the company controlled by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, formed IMG Reliance in 2010 to develop sports and entertainment in the world’s second-most populous nation behind China. The company signed a 30-year contract with the Basketball Federation of India that allows for the start of a professional league. One of Stern’s stated missions is to build the NBA brand, as well as the audience for basketball and its ancillary merchandise, outside of North America, where all of its teams are based. Logical outposts are China, where the league has a separate entity to conduct business there, and India, where IMG Reliance says it’s working to make the population proficient in sports other than cricket. India never has won a major international basketball tournament. ‘Like China, India will be a long-term key to the NBA’s global growth,’ Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, said in an e-mail. ‘Unlike China, the NBA doesn’t have a century of basketball legacy to leverage. Joining forces with IMG would create momentum for the business the NBA couldn’t have generated by itself.'”