Inspired by IPL’s fan connect, NBA Asia boss says

Ramez Sheikh, the general manager of NBA Asia and India, said the US basketball league is “inspired by and has tremendous respect” for the Indian Premier League (IPL), which began in 2008.

The IPL took the western franchise model and made it one of the world’s largest and richest sports brands. After this year’s media rights auction, the IPL was touted as the second most valuable league in the world, after the US National Football League (NFL).

“The IPL has done a great job evolving and creating a product that remains relevant and interesting. All sports, even the NBA in the United States, were very popular, but you have to keep thinking about how to maintain the relevance and interest of their fans,” Sheikh, who took over from NBA Asia MD in May, said on Saturday.

“We can’t take fandom for granted. In India, the IPL would agree. We are inspired by and have tremendous respect for cricket and the IPL. We learn, which is one of the great things about my job, being in markets where the NBA is new and fresh and we have a lot to do to create fans and an entertainment experience. So we learn a lot.”

The NBA is currently hosting two international pre-season games with the Atlanta Hawks versus Milwaukee Bucks at the Etihad Arena here. Atlanta won the first game on Thursday and the second was scheduled for Saturday night.

“We really need to continue to understand our fans. That’s where the IPL has done a really great job of creating a beautiful spectacle, where the nature of the game, the time, the format has changed. That’s something we’ve seen even in the United States.” States are constantly thinking about it,” said Sheikh.

The NBA is making big strides in the Asian market, with Tokyo and Abu Dhabi being the only two cities outside of America to host this year’s international pre-season games. The international games have not been held in the past three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, for which they have held two games at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai, where the Sacramento Kings will face the Indiana Pacers in October 2019.

“We would love to come back to India, just as our Commissioner Adam Silver said, but we don’t have a specific timetable. We had a great experience in 2019. Our plans for India are really focused. It’s an important market for us,” said Sheikh .

“We’ve been there, we’ve had football boots on the ground for almost a decade and we recognize that for the NBA, as much as we’re committed to the market, the market will require us to be patient and focused and have a long-term vision and a Part of that is to look at bringing events as a game, but also focusing on other areas of our business and how we continue to grow and engage our fans and partners.”

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