Scott Levy: No plan on bringing NBA game to Australia “right now”
Expectations of an NBA game in Australia happening soon, need to be reined in.
Following an announcement yesterday from NBA, FIBA and NBL on a Basketball Without Borders (BWB) camp in Australia next month. Scott Levy, current Managing Director for NBA Asia, has confirmed that there is no time frame as to when an NBA game will be played in Australia.
Levy, along with Brooks Meek --the NBA’s Vice President of International Basketball Operations-- participated in a teleconference with Australian media this morning, and explained how Australia continues to be a major market for the NBA.
“The process of us determining where we bring games really goes across all of our different business lines,” Levy said. “In Australia, we have just launched a store partnership with Rebel [Sport]. We recently put some digital elements in place and it’s really about growing those business lines and overtime, we will look and see when the right time to bring a game is."
“We don’t have any plans to bring a game right now, and I don’t think we would be willing to put a time frame on that right now, but we do appreciate there are a lot of fans in Australia that are passionate, and we hope that the rest of our business will continue to grow as it has been to justify that in the long term.”
Levy continued to elaborate on how steps are being taken to bring a game to Australia, including the strengthening of a cordial working relationship with the NBL, and the way the Australian fans interact with the NBA today - connections that he said couldn’t be found 18 months ago.
“The passion for sport is where we would start,” Levy said about what the NBA sees in the Australian market. “It’s always incredible to see the amount of people participating in sports, and the number of sporting events that take place in the country. The attendance and the viewership is just incredible. We don’t see that in too many countries around the world, as much as we see it in Australia and we want to make sure we can deliver the right product into the market."
“Australia has another unique element, which is seven players that are from Australia [in the NBA], so the developmental programs that are creating athletes and teeing them up to be able to join the NBA is also something we think is very compelling about the market.”
With the excitement of the announcement about the BWB camp yesterday came some intrigue, as many fans await news on potential players and coaches making their way down to Australia. Meek explained how the league is working through a number of different elements --such as the NBA playoff schedule and Olympic/national team commitments-- to get the best names possible for the camp.
“It’ll probably be a few weeks when we will have those names finalised, and I know a lot of the kids I’m working with to recruit to come to the camp are anxious to find out,” Meek said.
According to Meek, bringing a BWB camp to Australia has been a target for the NBA for a long period of time. He explained how working with Australian kids at previous camps in Asia was a positive experience for the NBA and that FIBA were also very keen to bring an event of this magnitude to Australia.
Unsurprisingly, some credit is due to the current Australian NBA players, saying they have been “phenomenal ambassadors for Australian basketball, and they voiced to us that we need to be doing more.”
Joe Ingles, who was present at the BWB announcement yesterday, had made mention of their efforts as well.
"We had a meeting in the pre-season and said that there's been nothing in Australia and it's turned around in nine months and we've got one of the biggest and best camps that the NBA does," Ingles shared.
Matthew Dellavedova, who is still in the midst of the NBA playoffs, also said that the potential for a sellout audience would be huge - should a NBA game in Australia happen.
"It would be huge, I think we could probably fill a football stadium to see (it)," Dellavedova said, via ESPN. It's a great opportunity to grow the game. If there could be a game there, it's something I'd love to be a part of."
Levy also emphasized on the need for the NBL to be a booming basketball league in Australia, and that the NBL has the NBA's full support.
“Anything we can do to support their development is a priority for us,” Levy said about the NBL. “When Larry Kestelman took over the league, we looked at what he was doing, and the way he approached us and saw this as a great opportunity to work together. We thought we had found a partner that would help us grow the game and that we could mutually benefit from working together, so I think that was a turning point for us.”
Finally, Levy confirmed that the BWB camp is an open event for the public to see the kids working out with NBA personnel, but that preference for fan interaction with the NBA personnel would be at the All-Star event at the Geelong Arena, on the final day of the camp.