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NBA (National Basketball Association) Regroups Under New Contract, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America comprised of 30 teams.  The league has two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, with each of those divided into three divisions.  A standard season has 82 games, which allows each team to play the other teams in their conference eight times.  The NBA season begins in late October and ends in April, with the NBA finals played in June after a series of playoffs.  Basketball is a fast-paced game with an intimate feeling to it, as the court upon which it is played is relatively small, compared to the fields of baseball, soccer and football.  The number of seats at a professional basketball facility is typically only one-quarter of those found in a football stadium.
Team values have skyrocketed since 2011, when no franchise was valued at even $1 billion.  A seven-year collective bargaining agreement was signed in late 2016 which allowed for hikes in average salaries (from $5 million to more than $9 million).
As of late 2022, San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors were the NBA’s most valuable franchise, valued at $7 billion.  The Warriors play in the state-of-the-art Chase Stadium, on an 11-acre site in the Mission Bay neighborhood.  The 18,000 seat stadium was completed in 2019 at a cost of $1.4 billion.  The Warriors were followed in total team value by the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.  
The Los Angeles Lakers signed a 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable worth an average of $200 million per year starting with the 2012-13 season.  TNT and ESPN/ABC retained and extended their rights to air NBA games under a new $23.4 billion, nine-year contract beginning with the 2017-18 season.
For decades, basketball’s greatest talents have played for the NBA, with team rosters made up of more and more players from outside the U.S. in recent years.  In the 2023 draft, the San Antonio Spurs used their number one pick for 19-year-old, 7 foot 4 inch French phenom Victor Wembanyama. 
As of the opening of the 2021-22 season, the NBA had 121 international players from 40 countries and territories.  The league has also pushed to establish offices and programs in many countries, most especially China, where an estimated 300 million people play the sport, according to the Chinese Basketball Association.  The NBA has been actively recruiting in China for years (former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who is currently the head of the Chinese Basketball Association, is an example), but in an ambitious move, the Association established a new league there after the conclusion of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
NBA China is endorsed by all 30 North American teams and has $253 million in financial backing from ESPN (a division of The Walt Disney Co.), Bank of China Group Investment, Legend Holdings Limited, Li Ka Shing Foundation and China Merchants Investments.  Collectively, this group owns 11% of the enterprise.  The NBA has a large, well designed store on a major street in downtown Shanghai that sells NBA-logoed merchandise and apparel.  The store is decorated with massive posters of NBA players.  In addition, NBA merchandise is sold at approximately 200 branded stores and more than 5,000 licensed retail outlets in China.
The NBA runs the Chinese Basketball Association Dongguan Basketball School and NBA Training Center, where elite 12- to 17-year old players train.  The league owns and operates a $1.5 billion, 2,300 acre sports and entertainment complex outside Beijing where visitors can train in a fitness center, play one-on-one with a virtual LeBron James and dine in a hoop-themed restaurant and kid’s zone.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is a professional basketball league comprised of 12 teams.  The teams are organized into the Eastern and Western conferences.  The WNBA season is made up of 40 games per team, starting each year in May and ending in September or early October with the WNBA finals, in which a championship team emerges in a best-of-five-games series.
The WNBA was expected to generate between $180 million and $200 million in combined league and team revenue in 2023 according to Bloomberg.  In early 2022, the league received a $75 million investment funded by team owners, the NBA, Nike and other investors.  The funds are earmarked for brand elevation and marketing and globalization.  As of early 2023, the Seattle Storm was the league’s most valuable team after selling minority stakes to 15 investors and bringing total value up to $151 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Games are aired on ESPN and ABC (both owned by Disney) in a deal that will expire in 2025.  Streaming coverage is available on Amazon Prime Video and on CBS streaming platforms.  Starting in 2023, Friday night games are being aired by Scripps’ Ion network.
The last expansion franchise in the league was the Atlanta Dream in 2008.  WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert recently announced her aim to have at least one additional franchise in operation by late 2025.

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