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Howdoes the NBA merge and flourish?
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been touted as the bestprofessional basketball league in the world. The NBA comprises of 30elite teams located in the United States except the Toronto Raptorswho are based in Canada (Jozsa 6). The premier status of the NBA hasattracted the best players from all over the world. Many corporateorganizations have also placed their advertisements with the NBA soas to leverage the excellent reputation of the organization. The highstatus of the NBA is reflected in the fact that its players are thehighest paid athletes in the world. Despite the success of the NBA,the association can merge with European basketball leagues so as todevelop a multicultural appeal and earn more revenues.
The NBA was formed in June 1946. At its formation, the NBA was knownas the Basketball Association of America (BAA) (Nelson 12). The BAAestablished itself as the best option for college graduates seekingto join the professional ranks. However, the BAA merged with theNational Basketball League in August 1949 and assumed its currentname. Initially, the new league consisted of 17 franchises locatedacross the country (Nelson 23). Continuous consolidation of teams ledto the emergence of only eight franchises. Gradually, the NBA grew instature and started attracting players from continental Europe andelsewhere. Merging with BAA improved the status of the NBA due toseveral factors. For example, the league established the 24-secondshot clock in 1954 so as to discourage teams from stalling (Kirchberg20). Consequently, shooting statistics improved and the leagueattracted new viewers. The success of the merger with NBL shows thehigh potential of achievement if the NBA merged with Europeanbasketball leagues.
The incorporation of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in1967 posed a serious threat to the continuation of the NBA (Kirchberg29). The two organizations became embroidered in intense bidding warsas they tried to sign the most talented players to their association(Goldsher). At the time, the NBA had 14 franchise teams. However,some major players and referees defected to the ABA. The appeal ofthe ABA was partly because it allowed teams under its association tosign undergraduates from college. Nevertheless, the rival leaguesreached a compromise and merged in 1976 (Goldsher). This mergerallowed both organizations to receive mutual benefits under theumbrella of the NBA. Therefore, the NBA can apply the lessons andexperience from the 1976 merger so as to pursue mergers withlucrative European counterparts.
Granted, the NBA encountered teething problems after the merger withABA. For example, the TV ratings plummeted as viewers switched toother sports. Also, matches in auditoriums had unusually lowattendance as spectators and fans stayed home (Goldsher).Furthermore, some players were involved in doping offenses.Suspicions of the systemic use of drugs discredited the NBA in theeyes of the media. Public perception of the NBA also suffered.However, the NBA ably used the strengths obtained from the merger toimplement several changes. In imitation of the ABA, the NBAintroduced the three-point field goal after initial resistance(Goldsher). The popularity of the three-point shot was manifestedthrough the annual 3-point shootout at the All-Star Weekend. The NBAalso announced the adoption of the slam dunk contest in 1976. TheNBA had previously used a slow-tempo game designed to preventinjuries to the players. However, positive influence from the ABA ledthe NBA to adopt pressing techniques aimed at trapping defenses(Goldsher). Consequently, the NBA game adopted a faster pace of playthat attracted more spectators and raised the profile of the NBA. TheNBA was also compelled to recruit high school players and collegeunderclassmen so as to trap fresh talent. The merger also enabled theNBA to access crucial markets in the southeast part of the country(Goldsher). Therefore, the NBA should actively pursue mergers withEuropean basketball leagues since such collaborations would open upnew markets.
The ABA had been formed with the intention of forcing a merger withthe better established NBA. While ABA had unlimited resources so asto lure both players and referees, it lacked the financial securityof a national TV contract. Previously, the ABA used a 30-second shotclock to encourage decent play and urgency. The ABA also used acolorful blue, white, and red ball as opposed to the NBA’s orangeball. Besides, it used a flashy offensive style designed to encouragescoring and put less emphasis on defense (Goldsher). However, the NBAcould dictate the terms of the merger due to its superior stabilityand financial security. Therefore, the NBA retained its name afterthe merger. It also maintained the 24-second shot clock and theorange balls (Surdam 55). This historical perspective shows thebargaining power of the NBA. As the ultimate male professionalleague, the NBA can afford to approach whichever merger it pleasesfrom a position of strength. Despite the appeal of Europeanbasketball unions, the NBA would still retain its identity whenmerging with Western institutions.
The NBA should also use recent developments as a precedent forforming a merger and deriving more international success. Forexample, the NBA has become a global brand by featuring almost 100foreign players representing over 40 countries (Associated Press). Infact, international players constitute more than 20% of the playersin the league (Associated Press). The NBA has frequently participatedin exhibition matches with Euroleague teams in the NBA Europe LiveTour. Although the latter arrangement has been ongoing since 2006,the Euroleague American Tour was kicked off in 2009 (Jozsa 48). Sincethen, the NBA has pushed new frontiers in holding games away from themajestic arenas and also away from the U.S. The league held aninaugural outdoor game at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2008(Jozsa 59). The NBA also held two games between two teams at theLondon O2 Arena. The 2011 matchups took place before audiencesnumbering beyond 20,000 (Jozsa 67). In 2016, the NBA held its firstAll-Star Weekend outside of the U.S. as they pitched camp in Toronto(Adande). These instances show the appeal of the NBA in foreigncountries. They also betray the desire of the NBA to explore otherregions and expand its network. Therefore, the NBA should pursuetheir targets by forming mergers with European leagues and reapingthe benefits of globalization.
Some former and current NBA players have also contributed to thespread of the NBA’s popularity and appeal. Some players such asMichael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry haveachieved global fame, respect, and recognition due to their statuswithin the game of basketball (Jozsa 100). In recognition of theirsocial obligations, these players have established foundation ns andset up basketball clinics in foreign countries. In this manner, theyhelp the NBA to break old barriers and explore new frontiers.Furthermore, some foreign players have also contributed to thepopularity of the NBA. Such players include Arvydas Sabonis,Lithuania, Dirk Nowitzki, Germany, and Pau Gasol, Spain. Othernotable foreign stars include Yao Ming, China, Manu Ginobili,Argentina, and Tony Parker, France. Some such as Nigerian HakeemOlajuwon, Congolese Dikembe Mutombo, and Canadian Steve Nash attendedAmerican colleges before suiting up in the NBA (Surdam 110). Theseplayers are treated as national icons in their countries due to theunprecedented level of success they achieved while in the NBA. Also,the popularity of basketball has been enhanced in their countries oforigin as fellow countrymen seek to emulate their example byenrolling into the NBA (Surdam 124). Therefore, the NBA has anexcellent opportunity to form mergers or establish remote leagues inthese countries. In this regard, the NBA could form strong mergers orestablish remote divisions in cities such as Berlin, Paris, Madrid,Berlin, and Barcelona. In doing so, the NBA will be capitalizing onits good reputation and hence achieve more success.
The popularity of the NBA has also been enhanced due to internationalsporting events organized by the International Olympic Committee andthe International Basketball Federation (FIBA). For several years,the NBA champions faced off against FIBA`s Continental champions. This matchup was held in 1987-1999 and was referred to as theMcDonald`s Championship (Kirchberg 123). Teams from the NBA won thecompetition for all the years it was held. Furthermore, Olympic Gameshave provided American basketball players with the opportunity toshowcase the superiority of the NBA. The Dream Team in 1992 BarcelonaOlympics was a case in point. Subsequent teams in 2008 and 2012 havealso claimed the Olympic crown with a series of blow-out victories(Jozsa 89). Consequently, the image of the NBA has been enhanced.This has given NBA the right to negotiate lucrative TV deals withinternational broadcasters. The high quality of play night afternight has raised the financial status of the NBA.
The NBA has also pursued mergers by supporting local initiatives andgiving back to the community. For example, the NBA held a Game forAfrica intended to inspire talented youngsters to take up the sportof basketball and aim to fit the caliber of the NBA (Jackson). Theleague also actively supports the NBA Cares program designedto give back to the community and satisfy the basic needs of orphanedchildren and low-income families. In this program, NBA players taketime off from practice and travel so as to visit children homes andclean the streets (Marin). Portraying such an image of strength andresponsibility contributes to the excellent image and publicperception. Consequently, sponsors and foreign leagues are drawn tothe NBA brand as they pursue active links and connections to thesuper league.
Indeed, the NBA should pursue mergers with European basketballleagues and pursue lucrative TV deals. As discussed, the NBA wasformed in 1946 as BAA. However, it adopted the title NBA upon mergingwith NBL in 1949. This merger improved the NBA in that it adopted the24-second shot clock. The subsequent merger with ABA in 1976 alsocaused the NBA to flourish due to the adoption of the three-pointfield goal, a fast-paced style of play, and the drafting of collegefreshmen (Goldsher). These historical examples show the benefits thatthe NBA stands to reap if it established mergers with Europeanleagues. The NBA should also capitalize on the success ofinternational players to pursue mergers and TV deals in foreigncountries. Besides, the league has taken part in internationalcompetitions organized by FIBA. League ambassadors have contributedto the allure of the sport by their excellent play. Also, the NBA hasheld games in foreign lands such as the UK so as to test its appealto international audiences (Jozsa 67). Furthermore, the league hasorganized exhibition games and corporate social responsibilityprograms so as to give back to the community. These details revealhow the NBA could tap into existing networks and form mergers thatwill enable it to flourish.
Adande, Joshua. “All-Star impact goes beyond the court.” ESPN.15 Feb. 2016. Web. 6 May 2016.
Associated Press. “Worldwide appeal: NBA rosters feature 100international players.” ESPN. 27 Oct. 2015. Web. 6 May 2016.
Goldsher, Alan. “Bringing the funk: How the ABA changed the NBAforever.” AOL.COM. 6 Aug. 2015. Web. 6 May 2016.
Jackson, Scoop. “NBA Africa Game a symbol of hope.” ESPN.31 Jul. 2015. Web. 6 May 2016.
Jozsa, Frank. National Basketball Association strategies: Businessexpansions, relocations, and mergers. Cham: Springer, 2015.Print.
Jozsa, Frank. The National Basketball Association: Business,organization, and strategy. Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific,2011. Print.
Kirchberg, Connie. Hoop lore: A history of the National BasketballAssociation. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2007. Print.
Marin, Christian. “NBA Cares and St. Jude team up with The VFoundation for Cancer Research and ESPN.” Prosgiveback.com.21 Feb. 2013. Web. 6 May 2016.
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Surdam, David. The rise of the National Basketball Association.Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012. Print.