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SCOTT JAGOW: Chicago and Detroit play each other in the NBA playoffs tonight. Some of the other cities left: San Antonio, Phoenix, Cleveland. But the NBA’s also thinking about London. The league is opening a new branch office over there. Pat Loeb tells us why.
PAT LOEB: A London office puts the NBA in the paint for developing new business opportunities in Europe.
The continent has been exporting more and more players to the U.S. This season 52 NBA players are from Europe, and that has more Europeans getting interested in the game.
London has just built an NBA-style arena called the O2. A pre-season game there between the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves, scheduled for next October, is already nearly sold out.
The NBA would like to do more of those kinds of events, according to Mike Bass. He’s the NBA’s vice president for marketing.
MIKE BASS: As the opportunity continues to grow the sport and the NBA brand and have people have access not just to our game but to our players, I would say the international appeal is rivaled only by soccer right now.
Bass points out that a British player, Luol Deng, is in the playoffs right now for the Chicago Bulls. Generating more fans with a physical presence in London should be. . . yes, a slam dunk.
I’m Pat Loeb, for Marketplace.
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