NBA reaches far and wide to build fan base
By Mark Medina
August 23, 2009
Clippers guard Baron Davis arrived last month at Mumbai Airport in India and stepped into a taxicab.
He immediately noticed how India's driving habits hinge more on aggressiveness and efficiency than conventional traffic signs.
"A dog was walking across the street and the driver was going 70 [miles per hour] and not looking," Davis said. "The closer it gets, I'm in the back of the car screaming like 'Aghhhhh'! Then he goes right past the dog, laughs and says, 'stupid American.' "
Call it part of Davis' cultural assimilation. He was in Mumbai for a week in July for the NBA's first fan clinic event in India, part of 345 international events the NBA has played host to in 158 cities and 24 countries in the last year.
Davis' clinics attracted about 10,000 fans a day, including Indian cricket stars Irfan Pathan and Piyush Chawla. The surge of interest in basketball overseas reminded Davis of his several trips to China. "You see the before and after effect," he said.
This summer, Davis also visited China to promote his shoe and apparel line with the Chinese company Li Ning.
"It was great to be a part of the NBA and see the way they build their brand," Davis said about his tour.
He had plenty of company. About 300 current and former NBA players, coaches, dance teams and mascots and about 50 sponsors have participated in the league's international events.
Commissioner David Stern said the NBA plans to hold a regular-season game somewhere in Europe before the 2012 Olympics. Stern also told The Times that he hopes a Pan-Asian basketball league will form in the next two to four years, although it may not be affiliated with the NBA.
"The great upside is that our international presence and the digital medium go hand in hand," Stern said. NBA games are broadcast in 215 countries and nearly half of the NBA's traffic on its website comes from overseas.
Lakers Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest and Sasha Vujacic also visited China this summer and put on basketball clinics, as well as promoting their shoe deals, Bryant for Nike, and Artest and Vujacic for the Chinese brand PEAK.
During his five-day Asian tour, Bryant told reporters, "They love the game and I love being around their energy."
Bryant's jersey is the NBA's top seller in China, but he's popular throughout Asia. One woman waited in line 17 hours to catch his appearance in Manila, and in Taiwan, Bryant was greeted by fans with hundreds of handmade posters, according to his website.
But on Artest's overseas trip, he was the one providing the gift. He donated a $45,000 watch to a Chinese middle school basketball player. While in China, Artest also fielded calls from fans after posting his cellphone number on Twitter. In a video posted on YouTube, Artest said: "I'm slowly starting to find out how to do promotions without getting in trouble."
Vujacic met up with Artest in Quanzou, China, where PEAK is located, and they played a 10-minute game on opposing teams in a match dubbed the "Lakers' Civil War." Vujacic team's won.
Vujacic and former Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo also visited a school in Chengdu this summer that was badly damaged by the Sichuan province earthquake that struck the area in May 2008. About 70,000 people were killed in the 7.9-magnitude quake.
"When I stepped out of the car, I was overwhelmed," Vujacic said. "They welcomed us and it was amazing. The kids were singing and looking forward to a great experience. It was sad when they gave us a tour and showed us the area where the earthquake happened. To know how many people died is really sad, but they appreciate everyday life."
Davis reached a similar conclusion during his trip to India. Davis, who grew up in Compton, says, "South Central is paradise and a kingdom" compared with some poor areas he saw in Mumbai.
"All we know is basketball to be king here in the United States," Davis said. "Then you go to a place where it's emerging and people are ready for it."
Lakers guard Jordan Farmar will be in Taiwan this week as part of an NBA tour. And he expects fans there to be enthusiastic about the basketball clinics he will host.
After participating in similar clinics in Korea and Israel in recent years, Farmar says those experiences reminded of what led him to play basketball when he was a kid.
"You can use sports to bridge gaps," Farmar said. "That's big, whether that's in America, Asia or Israel. People can get kids connected together through sports. A country may be at war, but that doesn't mean their people can't high-five each other."
NBA going global with plethora of international events
By Rick Pendrick
NEW YORK, Aug. 24, 2009 -- The NBA is currently traveling the globe to bring fans closer to the game and grow the sport through a record number of international events. The events will provide fans with unique NBA experiences locally and give back to communities through a series of NBA Cares programs. More than 300 players, Legends, coaches, dance teams, and mascots have embraced the outreach and will participate in the events.
The NBA is hosting a record 345 international events in 158 cities and 24 countries outside the United States from the start of the 2008-09 season through the end of the current offseason. This includes community events, touring basketball festivals, basketball development programs, preseason and exhibition games, player visits and basketball tournaments. The events are supported by more than 50 different marketing and event partners throughout the world. The schedule will culminate in October with five preseason games on three continents, marking the first time the league will play preseason games in Greater China, Europe, and Latin America in the same season.
"We're pleased to work with our partners and federations around the world to grow the game, increase participation and give back to communities," said NBA President of Global Marketing Partnerships and International Business Operations Heidi Ueberroth. "We look forward to providing fans with authentic NBA experiences and the opportunity to interact with NBA players, Legends, and coaches."
The NBA's grassroots events will feature touring basketball festivals including NBA Jam Van (China and Europe), NBA Jam Mall Tour (India), and NBA Madness (Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) as well as competitive basketball tournaments including NBA Gatorade 3x3 (Mexico), adidas NBA 5 United Tour (Europe), and the NBA 3-on-3 (Canada).
"We are very pleased with our partnership with the NBA and look forward to continuing to work together to grow the game of basketball in India," said Secretary General of the Basketball Federation of India Harish Sharma. "We have worked with the league on various successful grassroots programs and community outreach initiatives for our youth and we are very excited about the first-ever NBA Jam Mall Tour."
The NBA will conduct various basketball development programs aimed at developing young talent including Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA (United Kingdom, India, China, Japan, and the Philippines), the Indonesia Development Camp, the Korea Development Camp, NBA Gatorade Healthy Basketball Academy (China) and the Garanti Skills Challenge (Turkey).
"The Korea Development Camp provides passionate basketball players in Korea the opportunity to meet and train with NBA players and coaches," said the Korea Basketball League Commissioner Yook Chon. "Our association with the NBA helps to further develop the sport in this country."
Community outreach activities will be highlighted by Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA's global basketball development and community outreach program, taking place in China, Mexico and South Africa. As part of these basketball camps, NBA players and coaches will dedicate places to live, learn or play, host basketball clinics with Special Olympics athletes, conduct life skills seminars and work with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for people in need.
NBA Cares efforts will also feature Learn & Play Center dedications in India and Taiwan, a Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA basketball clinic in Brazil and events in conjunction with NBA preseason games on three continents. In partnership with the U.S. State Department, current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches are also traveling to Qatar, Bahrain, the Philippines, Georgia, Uganda, and Mozambique this offseason as ambassadors of sport.
The NBA will play its first-ever game in Taiwan when the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers tip off at the Taipei Arena on Oct. 8. The two teams will meet again at the Wukesong Arena in Beijing on Oct. 11. NBA Europe Live presented by EA SPORTS will feature the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls at the O2 in London on Oct. 6 followed by the Jazz against Euroleague's Real Madrid at the Palacio de Deportes in Madrid on Oct. 8. NBA Mexico Game 2009 will feature the Phoenix Suns against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18 in Monterrey at the Arena Monterrey.
Below is an overview of the NBA's international events.
NBA Europe Live presented by EA SPORTS: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz in London, and the Jazz vs. Real Madrid in Madrid
On Oct. 6 the Bulls will compete against the Utah Jazz at The O2. The second game features the Jazz against Euroleague Basketball's Real Madrid at the Palacio de Deportes on Oct. 8. Williams traveled to London on June 1 and Madrid on June 2 to promote the games. American Airlines, adidas, Champion, and Coca-Cola will return as marketing partners, with HANNspree and HP supporting the event for the first time.
NBA Games 2009: Denver Nuggets vs. Indiana Pacers in Taipei and Beijing
The NBA will play its first-ever game in Taiwan when the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers tip off at the Taipei Arena on Oct. 8. The two teams will meet again at the Wukesong Arena in Beijing on Oct. 11. Partners include Lenovo, Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven (Taipei only), and Toyota (Beijing only).
NBA Mexico Game 2009: Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers in Monterrey
The Suns will face the 76ers on Oct. 18 at Arena Monterrey in Mexico. This marks the NBA's second visit to Monterrey and 18th game in Mexico overall. Sprite is the presenting partner joined by American Airlines, Gatorade and Wonder.
Korea and the Philippines: NBA Asia Challenge, Featuring NBA Legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dominique Wilkins, Tim Hardaway, Vlade Divac and Robert Horry
The NBA Asia Challenge will feature NBA Legends and NBA Development League players in games against local All-Star teams in Korea on Sept. 5, Incheon on Sept.6, and the Philippines on Sept. 11. Partners include DHL, EA SPORTS, Gatorade, Dusit Thani Hotel, and IAN Communications.
Brazil: the "Basketball Show" Charity Game, Featured Eight NBA Players
On Oct. 9 a charity game took place in Brazil that featured Brazilian NBA players Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa, along with Danny Granger, Drew Gooden, Shawn Marion, Delonte West, Devin Brown, and Keith Bogans. They joined Brazilian basketball stars and celebrities to raise funds for HOPE Unlimited, a charity for children at mortal risk. In conjunction with the charity game, NBA Cares staged a youth clinic for 150 kids on Oct. 7.
China, Mexico, South Africa: Basketball without Borders Featuring All-Stars Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, and Carlos Boozer
Basketball without Borders (BWB) is the NBA and FIBA's global basketball development program that uses the sport to create positive social change in education, health, and wellness for top local players 19 and under. The camps took place in Beijing, China from July 30 to Aug. 2; Mexico City, Mexico from Aug. 6 to 9; and will visit Johannesburg, South Africa from Sept. 2 to 6. Nike, a BWB partner since 2002, will outfit the campers and coaches. Other partners include American Airlines, EA SPORTS, Gatorade, South African Airways, DHL, HP, Wonder, and Spalding.
Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe: State Department Sports Envoy Trips
In partnership with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches are traveling to Qatar, Bahrain, the Philippines, Georgia, Uganda, and Mozambique this offseason as ambassadors of sport, where they will conduct clinics, visit schools, and speak to youth.
Jordan: Generations for Peace (G4P) Featured NBA Legend Rolando Blackman
The NBA supported Prince Feisal Al Hussein of Jordan's Generations for Peace (G4P) Amman Peace Camp from June 1 to 8. The camp brings together more than 70 youth leaders (delegates) from communities of conflict in 15 countries and uses sports to heal divisions between countries.
India: NBA Court Dedications Featured NBA Legend A.C. Green
On April 8, the NBA held a dedication ceremony in Mumbai for its first-ever refurbished basketball court in India. Green held a clinic for 75 children. Partners include the Basketball Federation of India, HP, and Tata Consultancy Services. In September, the NBA will refurbish two basketball courts and a technology center at the Coloba YMCA in Mumbai and another refurbished basketball court and technology center in Bangalore.
Canada: NBA Cares Tour Featuring Miami Forward Joel Anthony
The NBA Cares Tour, taking place from Aug. 1 to 30, will visit 38 Wal-Mart locations across the country in an effort to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network for children's hospitals. Tour partners include Gatorade, General Mills, Juicy Fruit, Mars, Nintendo, and Speed Stick. The Toronto Raptors dance team, mascot, and Head Coach Jay Triano, will also attend. TOURING BASKETBALL FESTIVALS India: NBA Jam Mall Tour Featured Los Angeles Clippers Guard Baron Davis The NBA launched its first-ever fan event in India, NBA Jam, which took place from July 3 to Aug. 16. NBA Jam traveled to malls in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, and included a variety of entertainment and basketball activities. Davis was joined by the Knicks City Dancers. NBA Jam partners include HP, EA SPORTS, Reebok, and Spalding.
China, Europe: NBA Jam Van Featured Oklahoma City Guard Russell Westbrook and Philadelphia Guard Andre Iguodala
The Jam Van, a customized 52-foot truck that transforms into 10,000 square feet of free basketball activities, will visit 24 Chinese cities from May 15 to Nov. 1. Jam Van will also visit France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Greece. The two tours have seven partners: Lenovo, Peak, and Mengniu (China); and Coca Cola, EA SPORTS, HANNspree, and Value Retail (Europe).
Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan: NBA Madness Featuring New York Forward David Lee (Indonesia), Oklahoma City Forward Kevin Durant (Hong Kong), and Los Angeles Lakers Guard Jordan Farmar (Taiwan)
NBA Madness, the league's interactive basketball lifestyle event, visited Indonesia June 4 to 28 for the first time and offered a variety of free basketball activities for fans of all ages. NBA Madness will also stop in Taipei from Aug. 28 to 30 and Hong Kong from Sept. 4 to 6. Partners include presenting partner Jawa Pos along with Honda, DHL, and FLEXie (Indonesia); and EA Sports, Lenovo, DHL, adidas and Spalding (Hong Kong and Taiwan).
China: P&G Pavilion Tour and Court Refurbishments Featuring NBA Legend Scottie Pippen and New Jersey Forward Yi Jianlian
The P&G Pavilion Tour, featuring an appearance from Scottie Pippen, took place from June 3 to Aug. 16, and featured basketball games and in-store activities in major cities in China to promote P&G's leading brands: Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Rejoice, and Safeguard. As part of the partnership with P&G, NBA Cares will also help refurbish basketball courts at 20 schools in the Sichuan Province. Yi Jianlian appeared at a school on July 21.
United Kingdom, India, China, Japan, Philippines: Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Featured NBA Legends John Starks and Robert Parish
Designed to promote education, basketball participation, and an active lifestyle, the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA visited India for the first time last November, where NBA Legend Robert Parish hosted clinics in three cities and more than 600 schools received basketball education materials. The Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA will also visit cities in the UK, China, Japan, and the Philippines. Starks participated in the Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou stops in late July. Partners include: American Airlines, Mitsubishi, JOMO (Japan); Tata Consultancy Services (India); adidas, Chevron, Gatorade, New Marketlink and Solar (Philippines); and Amway Nutrilite (China).
Turkey: Garanti Skills Challenge Featured Utah Center Mehmet Okur
From May through early June, Garanti Bank and the NBA gave fans ages 13 to 18 the chance to submit online videos showcasing their basketball skills. Fans selected the top 100 videos, and a panel of NBA experts invited the top 30 players to the Skills Challenge Camp in Istanbul July 19 to 21. The top four players were invited to an instructional camp in Orlando from Aug. 3 to 7.
China: Haier Academy Camps Featuring New Jersey Guard Devin Harris
Returning to China for the third consecutive year, the camp will be held Aug. 27 to 30 to help youngsters ages 15 to 18 develop their basketball skills. Harris will be the camp coach.
Indonesia: NBA Development Camp Featured Sacramento Guard Kevin Martin
From Aug 16 to 18, the NBA and DetEksi Basketball League hosted a camp for the top 50 boys and girls ages 15 to 18 in Surabaya. Martin was a coach for the camp, which is also supported by Spalding. DetEksi
Korea: NBA Development Camp Featured NBA Legend Ron Harper and Philadelphia Forward Jason Kapono
The NBA and the Korean Basketball League (KBL) brought together the top 40 basketball players ages 16 to 19 in Korea from May 21 to 24. The camp MVP earned a spot to participate in BWB Asia. George Toliver, director of NBA Development League officials and an NBA referee for 14 years, hosted a referee clinic to train KBL referees. Partners included KBL, Shinhan Cards, Gatorade, adidas, and Spalding.
Africa: Sprite Slam Elite Basketball Players Camps Featured NBA Player Juwan Howard
The camp took place from July 25 to 30 in four locations each in Kenya and Uganda. In conjunction with the Angolan Basketball Federation, five players from each country were selected to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa and attend the BWB camp.
Mexico: NBA Gatorade 3x3 Inter-School League and Tournament
The inter-school tournament featured more than 200 schools competing in Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Chihuahua, and Hermosillo from April 21 to June 7. The second event, a 3x3 tournament open to the public, took place June 6 to 7 in Mexico City. The San Antonio Silver Dancers participated in this event, which HP supported.
Europe: adidas NBA5 United Tour Featuring Denver Guard Chauncey Billups, Atlanta Forward Josh Smith and Portland Guard Sergio Rodriguez
The adidas NBA5 United Tour is a grassroots event combining outdoor 5-on-5 tournaments with pickup games and interactive basketball elements. The event tipped off in Athens, Greece on June 20 to 21 before traveling to Madrid, Spain from June 27 to 28; Rome, Italy from July 4 to 5; Istanbul, Turkey from July 11 to 12; and will culminate in London, England from Sept. 12 to 13. In addition to presenting partner adidas, Coca-Cola, and EA SPORTS support the tour.
Canada: NBA 3-on-3 Featuring Iguodala, and Toronto Guard Joey Graham.
Now in its 13th season in Canada, NBA 3-on-3 is focused on developing future generations of NBA fans by bringing the NBA experience to eight cities and 85,000 participants and spectators from June 27 to Aug. 23. The Raptors Dance Pak and The Raptor will participate. Eight partners support this event: Parmalat, Canada Basketball, Ford, Rogers, Speedstick, Gatorade, President's Choice Financial, and the Toronto Raptors.
China: OPPO University Challenge Featured Iguodala
The 3-on-3 basketball competition visited 15 universities in 10 Chinese cities from April 25 to July 19 to promote basketball participation and OPPO's digital technology. The top three teams won an all-expenses-paid trip to the U.S to attend an NBA game and participate in a training camp hosted by an NBA coach.
adidas: Dwight Howard (China, Aug. 21 to 25), Chauncey Billups (Italy, July 4 to 5), Derrick Rose (China, Aug. 21 to 25), Devin Harris (China, May 17 to 23), Brook Lopez (China, May 17 to 23), Josh Smith (Greece, June 20 to 21), Sergio Rodriguez (Spain, June 27 to 28)
Nike: Kobe Bryant (Asia, July 21 to 26), LeBron James (China, Aug. 24 to 28), Rajon Rhondo (China, June 8 to 12), Aaron Brooks (China, June 8 to 12)
Peak: Jason Kidd, Ron Artest, Dikembe Mutombo, Sasha Vujacic and Shane Battier will visit China this summer (July 23 to Sept. 3).