The National Football League often dominates the news cycle on a yearly basis. But when its biggest event of the season, the Super Bowl, was ramping up, it was the National Basketball Association making the biggest headlines.
Those who are making NBA odds are going to have a rough go of it with all of the player movement as the NBA trade deadline came and went leading into the Super Bowl. The Brooklyn Nets sent Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks and Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns, and that was only the beginning.
The Los Angeles Lakers were able to ditch Russell Westbrook and grab D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jared Vanderbilt to give themselves depth. Elsewhere, the Golden State Warriors were able to shed salary by trading James Wiseman, further proving it is a business.
As were the Suns landing Durant, Darius Bazley, and T.J. Warren after new owner Matt Ishbia bought the team for a record $4 billion.
More to Come?
Ishbia’s sale approval was timely because of where the Suns were at with previous owner Robert Sarver, who was investigated for misconduct. Rumors were swirling that Ishbia wanted to invest in the roster and increase the contention window.
The Suns now have that, and while there have been expansion talks for years. There has been a promise from commissioner Adam Silver to restore the Seattle Supersonics after they left for Oklahoma City as the present-day Thunder. Though that was not a binding contract. But the $4 billion evaluation and the salary cap expected to increase another $20 million or so shows how well off the NBA is. It will take a solid group of investors to come together and secure a new franchise.
Las Vegas is another rumored destination due to the league’s ties with the NBA Summer League being hosted in the city. Both the NFL and National Hockey League have expanded to Sin City. All that was separating teams from coming sooner was the negative light shown on sports betting, but since 33 states have legalized sports betting, it is becoming more widely accepted.
There is no doubt that soccer’s reach is the best among professional sports. The NFL is certainly up there, but perhaps no league has done better overseas than the NBA. It is such a diverse fan base, and it is largely because of the number of international stars.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has his own style of basketball that is unmatched and difficult to defend, and he is from Greece. Nikola Jokic of Serbia has won two straight Most Valuable Player awards and is likely the frontrunner to extend that streak to three years. Throw in Luka Doncic of Slovenia, another transcendent star, and there is a lot to enjoy.
But the NBA has invested in marketing and taken its games international to allow for its diverse fan base to enjoy one of the most entertaining products in the world. The latest edition is the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls playing in Paris. The Pistons also played the Dallas Mavericks in Mexico City previously.
In Front of Trends
The NBA has not been afraid to dip into emerging markets. Most notably, they are tapping into an emerging market of cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It is something that may pay off down the line, despite the fluctuating markets and negative headlines that are associated with it.
Notably, the Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban have been beating the cryptocurrency drum to move the NBA forward. The team started accepting dogecoin and bitcoin for ticket sales and merchandise at the arena. They also partnered with Voyager Digital to transfer funds. Elsewhere, FTX has been popular among teams, but that is one of the ways it has bitten the league. The Miami Heat sold their naming rights to FTX but stripped it when the company went out of business.
Players have also converted parts of their contracts into bitcoin or some of their sponsorship deals to dabble in emerging markets. The NBA also was one of the first major American sports leagues to put businesses’ logos on the teams’ jerseys. It was a great addition to add a little extra revenue and maximize profits.