x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Gulf owners would be a positive step for NBA

If the English Premier League can attract deep pockets from around the globe, why not the NBA?

Basketball is a world sport and the NBA is the world's premier professional basketball league with a worldwide audience. It is studded with international stars: 84 international players were among the 360 men on opening-night rosters six weeks ago.

A team is located in Toronto and owned by a Canadian conglomerate. The New Jersey Nets are owned by a Russian billionaire. Now comes word that three groups from the Gulf are interested in buying the Detroit Pistons, one from Abu Dhabi, one from Dubai and a third from Qatar.

Go for it. If the English Premier League can attract deep pockets from around the globe, why not the NBA?

The NBA should welcome the concept, and it apparently does. David Stern, the commissioner, told The National: "We are either in direct or indirect discussions with at least three buyers in the Middle East over their interest in acquiring NBA franchises."

Of the big four professional leagues in North America, the NBA is by far the most active internationally and is looking to expand in the Middle East.

Stern later softened his stance in a statement that read: "There has been interest in league franchises from various investors in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but [the NBA refutes] a report that specific negotiations are ongoing for a potential sale of the Pistons."

Whether it is the Pistons or another team, more international ownership is coming. It is a world economy. It is a world game.