IPL on mind, Stern wants to popularise NBA in India

  • Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times, Houston
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  • Updated: Feb 15, 2013 11:43 IST

In sports administration, David Stern is a colossal figure, for few can boast of wielding the power successfully and for so long, managing one of the world's most high profile ventures as he has done being at the helm of the National Basketball Association for three decades.

Such has been his aura that it was looking at his success as the commissioner of the NBA, since taking over in February, 1984, that a certain Lalit Modi had styled himself as commissioner of the Indian Premier League, when his actual designation was of chairman.

Modi’s Inspiration
Interestingly, if Modi looked up to Stern for inspiration, the NBA commissioner is also impressed with how Modi's brainchild, the IPL, has become a successful model in India.

As NBA tries to establish itself in the Indian sports market, Stern said IPL has shown the way of how a franchise-league concept can grow in the subcontinent. The NBA commissioner made the reference to the IPL came on seeing the Twenty20 league's jumper the writer was sporting at the time of the media interaction here on Thursday.

Tapping potential
“I see you wearing an IPL sweat shirt, which is a very successful launch of a league and in the same way, we too know India has a fair number of people and several million middle-class and we look forward to developing our sport in India. That's why I will be visiting Mumbai soon, where we have an office --- NBA India," said Stern to a question from HT.

“I think we have a sport that has been played for over 100 years and we have been able to tap into its enormous potential, building infrastructure, growth of television, sports marketing, our tapping into the global desire for sports and entertainment," he said of his successful formula for taking NBA global and which the league is now looking to tap into the Indian sports market.

Beating football
Basketball's television appeal is limited compared to say football, but given that European football has stolen a march over other sports, how does NBA plan to cope with the increasing competition?

"European football has been there for a heck of a lot more time than NBA has and, that's a great sport. We just want to support the sport at the grassroots and we have got very good results. We don't want to have a league tomorrow, we just want to grow the game," he said.

 

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