When a standard Wednesday night NBA game tips off at 7 p.m. Eastern, it is midnight in London, 4:30 a.m. Thursday in New Delhi, India, and in Beijing it is 7 a.m. Thursday morning.
For a game trying to grow globally, it’s hard to get a fan overseas to sit down and watch a game live at those times.
NBA Commissioner David Stern was in China, where the NBA sent the Lakers and Warriors for some preseason games, and where the league opened up a school with Yao Ming. At a press conference talk of bringing a regular season NBA game to China came up.
But then Stern talked start times.
“Interestingly, there’s an intermediate step that Yao raised earlier with me, and that is the question of whether the NBA would consider modifying some of the start times of its games so that they would be more accessible to international audiences at a more convenient time for them to watch. And I think that the NBA is going to have to wrestle over the next decade as more and more of our viewing audience is outside the United States, is what’s the best time for games to be played so that those fans can enjoy them live as opposed to having to get up in China and watch an NBA game at 7:00 in the morning. And I think that’s a fun problem that we’re going to be addressing because so much viewing is happening outside the United States now.”
The problem is the domestic audience inside the United States is still the core audience. The NBA can’t start to alienate its core audience. For Europe, some of the weekend afternoon starts can work — a 1 p.m. Eastern start on Sunday is 6 p.m. in London, and you can promote that.
Asia is another matter. With basically a 12-hour time difference, there is no good answer. The Lakers and Warriors are playing at a good viewing time in China for their exhibition games, but back home America’s West Coast those games start at 4:30 a.m.
I do think you will see the NBA take a regular season game or games to China in the coming few years. It is the next step in that market.
NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Sager’s fight with leukemia will prevent the basketball sideline reporter form covering the Rio Olympics for NBC.
NBC said Thursday in a statement that the 65-year-old Sager is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sager was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and announced in March that he was no longer in remission.
The Rio Games would have been Sager’s fifth Olympics.
Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years. At the ESPY Awards this month, Vice President Joe Biden presented Sager with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.