Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NBA commissioner David Stern had plenty to talk about with the playoffs beginning tomorrow.

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Apr 18, 2007 3:00 AM (7 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 16 of 5,608
BALTIMORE - On the eve of the NBA playoffs, commissioner David Stern was excited about such an open field with so many teams claiming a real chance to win the title. But with a global product that is exceeded only by soccer and a television concept that has been adopted by the NHL, Major League Baseball and, yes, even the NFL have learned something from Stern.

So while playoffs are on his mind, I could not help but explore a few other topics when I spoke to Stern on a conference call from his New York office last week.

Stern on other leagues using his concept for their new TV deals: “We felt that moving the majority of our games to cable made the most sense for us in the long run and would give our fans options they would not have anywhere else. Our partners, Turner Sports and ESPN/ABC/Disney, along with NBATV — the first league-owned, 24/7/365 channel dedicated to NBA programming — has given our fans a chance to see every player and every team in our league over the course of a season.

“The result has been an educated group of fans who not only know our star players, but they know our teams. I think that the NHL and more recently MLB understand that our template works well, and we are flattered that they followed our plan. We also think that the NFL saw how NBATV became a destination not only for our fans, but for many of our players.

“We televised more than 80 regular-season games this year and games from the European leagues, giving our fans a peek at some future stars. It is exactly what the NFL Network is doing successfully with their channel.”

Stern on the NBA going global: “When we took the original Dream Team to the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, our true goal was to expand the NBA brand. We now have more than 20 percent of our players coming from other countries. NBATV is seen in nearly 100 counties worldwide, and the game on a world scale has never been healthier. Our stars are the world's stars, and you can see NBA gear on kids from China to Africa. I think we are on the right global path.”

There’s plenty of playoff action this weekend, starting this weekend with Comcast SportsNet following the Wizards. ESPN and TNT also will have a full slate of games also. And all playoff games can be head on SIRIUS.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. E-mail him at

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