NBA commissioner David Stern spoke fondly of Philippine basketball during his press conference on Thursday, even remembering the legendary Robert Jaworski.
Stern was asked by GMA News sports reporter and Spin.ph columnist Chino Trinidad about his impressions of Philippine basketball when an NBA contingent first went to Manila way back in 1996.
“I knew that then-Senator Jaworski was quite the player in the Philippines,” Stern responded.
Jaworski is one of the most popular players in the country, a former PBA Most Valuable Player who also served the national team both as a player and a coach.
At that time, Stern said he had already heard great things about Philippine basketball when incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Ahmad Rashad went to the Philippines 17 years ago.
“We had a Filipino telling us, 'You’d better get more people in the Philiippines,' and so we were like, 'Let’s get more people in there.'
“We had Ahmad Rashad and Adam come, and they came back and told us what we already knew, which is this is one heck of a market, that we had heard about, we had read about,” Stern said.
Stern said that he had also met several commissioners in the PBA when they visited the US.
“I met with successive commissioners who always came through New York, but they came back and said, 'You are not going to believe it, it’s all true,'” said Stern.
Stern said the Philippines is one of the league's biggest markets.
“I would say that the Philippines is just about our most successful market, and it’s got very important plans for growth as well,” said Stern.