Silver hints NBA set for Paris match in 2020
By Steven GRIFFITHS
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has revealed his league is considering playing a regular-season game in Paris next year.
Silver is keen to grow the NBA’s global brand and playing in France could be the next step in 2020.
For the ninth successive year, the league is playing one match in London, with the New York Knicks facing the Washington Wizards at the O2 Arena just minutes after Silver finished speaking to the media on Thursday.
Hinting that a game will be scheduled for Paris, possibly instead of the London fixture, Silver admitted he was looking to tap into the large basketball fan-base in France.
“I’m told I’m not allowed to break any news today, but yes it is possible,” Silver told reporters when asked about playing in France.
“It is something we are looking at very closely, to play a game in Paris next season.”
France has such a thriving basketball culture that several players — either born in the country or with a French parent — have made it in the NBA.
There are currently nine French players in the league, with Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert and Charlotte Hornets ace Tony Parker the most high-profile.
“France has been a terrific market. There have been several French players in the NBA,” Silver added.
“We have played many exhibitions in Paris over the years. I remember being there with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, there was tremendous excitement.
“We look forward to coming back to Paris.”
Whether the proposed Paris match would replace London instead of being part of a double-bill remains to be decided.
– Intensive undertaking –
The Bercy Arena in Paris last hosted an NBA pre-season game in 2010.
“That is not clear yet. It is a very labour intensive undertaking to bring games to Europe. It is something we are looking at,” Silver said.
Silver is aware the NFL has already stolen a march in the battle to cash in on the huge interest in US sports from the rest of the world.
Up to four American Football regular-season matches a year are played in London, while the NFL have also staged games in Mexico.
Meanwhile, the MLB will host two baseball games between New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at West Ham’s London Stadium in June.
Keen to keep up, the NBA will play pre-season games in India next year for the first time.
Basketball’s top stars LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden all have huge world-wide followings and the success of the London fixture suggests the appetite for more NBA access is growing.
Fans from over 39 countries bought tickets online and the game was streamed or broadcast live in over 200 countries.
However, Silver pumped the breaks on talk the NBA could consider placing a new franchise in Europe.
“One of the issues is the travel and time zones and the impact on players’ bodies,” he said.
“The change in sleep patterns can result in injuries to our players.
“We are not quite there yet. My focus is in building a really strong league.”