Perhaps, you need to be an American to understand the excitement surrounding the NBA All-Star Games.
The National Basketball Association believes not. Because even if one doesn’t understand basketball, they understand Michael Jordan and his successors like Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
As the name suggests, the All-Star games involve the best in the NBA business going up with and against each other. Essentially the game pits players from the Eastern Conference versus those from the Western Conference (in the NBA structure the 30 teams are split into 15 each from the east and west coast). An elaborate exhibition of basketball, the NBA All-Star weekend has been a regular on the sport’s calendar since 1951 in the USA.
The 2010 edition is being publicised with the bigger-than-ever fervour. The reasons for this are that the All-Star Game, which will be played on Sunday, February 14, will be held at the Dallas Cowboys football stadium, in front of an expected record crowd of 80,000. It is for the first time since 1996 — where the Jordan-led Eastern squad notched a 129-118 victory — that the game will be played at a football stadium.
Though the sport is played in schools worldwide and is now also an Olympic medal sport, the NBA has come to define it. And the basketball association has, over the years, used their most potent assets — the players — to get their publicity vehicles going. Apart from the guaranteed excitement in the US, the NBA is now striving to give it an international flavour.
Nine international players will take part in NBA All-Stars and the games will be telecast in over 200 countries.
American sports have earlier existed in their own happy, lucrative bubble. Be it baseball, basketball, American football or the NASCAR series, the Americans have identified or created sports for themselves and turned it into money-spinning enterprises.
But in a global market, even they cannot continue to live in complete isolation.