Now NBA "It is doing very well" in Latin America or, at least, that is what its general manager for the region, the Brazilian Arnon de Mello, affirms, who declares that the most important basketball league in the world is working for a franchise in those countries. countries "may be a reality."
In an interview with Efe during the celebration of the NBA G-League International Challenge Uruguay at the Antel Arena in Montevideo, the manager talks about the next goals of the league for the region, the next season in the United States and the recent World Cup in China won by Spain.
QUESTION: What is your expectation of this tournament?
ANSWER: The expectation is the best, because it is the first time that we have a tournament of this magnitude for the G-League in our region.
Q: How would you describe the current situation of the NBA in Latin America?
A: The NBA is doing very well. We have an office in Brazil and another in Mexico, the markets are growing a lot, also the Caribbean, Argentina a lot and Uruguay too. Latin Americans love basketball, they play it, we are on the same schedule as the United States, so we can watch the games live, which is very important. We are doing many actions, very present in the market. This helps us to grow.
Q: What are the most immediate plans for the region?
A: We have to continue to support basketball development processes. We are very involved with the little ones so that they choose basketball as their favorite sport early on. It is the largest project we have at the moment.
Q: How is that achieved in a region as footballing as this one?
A: But (basketball) they like a lot… I was in Uruguay for the final of the local tournament. I liked seeing firsthand how people really like basketball. They treat it like it's a soccer game. I do not think it is a competition to see who wins, but we have a quality product and we all have a space.
Q: Are there any expansion plans in Latin America?
A: With these two offices we can fix the entire region at the moment. In other parts of the world we are growing a lot too, two offices in China, one in India, one in Africa, one in Europe… Today there are 14 offices around the world, which is very different from any other sports league in the world. I think we have a big advantage because we are present in all the regions and we have people from the regions working.
Q: This year has been very particular, with the first victory in NBA history for a team from outside the United States (Toronto Raptors). By when a franchise in Latin America?
A: I think already. We want to bring a G-League team to Mexico next year. Our commissioner (Adam Silver) has already talked about this in Mexico and they are working hard so that this success can be achieved this year. It is a step towards the first franchise outside the United States and Canada.
Q: Could South America dream too?
A: I hope so. We will continue working so that this can become a reality.
Q: Has the league benefited from the arrival of so many international players?
A: In the NBA we have a monopoly on talent. All the great talent is coming to the NBA. In this World Cup, Spain won with some players who are playing in the NBA. Now it is not so easy for the United States to win basketball competitions. This is very good to continue the development of the sport around the world. The two teams that played in the final, Spain and Argentina, for us it is very good because it raises the level of basketball and interest in the sport.
Q: What is your opinion that so many NBA stars decided not to play the World Cup in China?
A: All the players who went to the World Cup are NBA players. I don't like to say that there are better or not so good players. They are all NBA players. We have to think that the United States team is the most expensive in the World Cup and they didn't win. The level is now very close. Five years ago perhaps the difference was greater, not today.
Q: Do you see any favorites for this season?
A: It is difficult. There are no more one or two teams away in terms of capacity. We have one or two star players on many teams. It will be difficult. Lakers this year are going to be better, which is important because it is a very large market, as well as the Brooklyn Nets, also with very interesting players. These two teams were not fighting for the championship last year. Now they are in this group with Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, which was not there before, Houston, Miami, Boston ... Many teams that have a 'chance' this year.
Q: Are the great sagas in the NBA over?
A: It is getting more and more difficult. The level is better every year, the players are better, everything is more equal. EFE