DESPITE the growth of the sport, NBA commissioner David Stern believes basketball will never overtake football in terms of popularity.
Stern said being No. 2 in terms of popularity is fine, as basketball continues its steady growth and enjoy immense popularity all over the globe.
“I think that football has a grip on the world that should be both admired and respected,” said Stern during the recently-concluded NBA Global Games Philippines.
“It’s okay to be No. 2 all over the world.”
Stern said he is already glad that basketball is the No. 1 sport in several countries in the world including the Philippines.
“I think it is fair to say that in the Philippines, basketball is the No. 1 sport, and I think it’s also fair to say in China, which is pretty large, we’re sort of might be the No. 1, together perhaps with ping-pong and soccer, but I think we’re doing well,” said Stern.
The NBA commissioner said football and other sports may be No. 1 in some countries, but that doesn’t mean basketball can never grow in these places.
“In India, with its 1.2 billion people, cricket is not sport, it’s religion. An IPL game between the Delhi Daredevils and the Mumbai Indians, and it was incredible… It was seen by 10 million people in India, 10 million televisions, and we’re on the same network, Sony, and we were probably seen by 100,000 people.
“But that gives us a lot of room for growth and it’s fun to contemplate. But will we ever grow number one in India? Never. Will we grow substantially in India and around the world? Absolutely,” said Stern.
“So the ranking is less important than the opportunity,” he added.
Stern reiterated that Philippines is an important market to the them and indicated that local fans will see more of the NBA in the future.
“The Philippines has a population of 100 million or so, so they’re a very important part of our Southeast Asian strategy, and we’re using what we’ve learned here to take further steps here.
“So the Philippines is a very important market to us, and it is the most intense and robust and knowledgeable basketball market. I was going to say outside of the US, but it may lead the world; I’m not sure,” Stern said.