NBA Commissioner David Stern hosts London Mayor Ken Livingstone in New York

NEW YORK, May 16, 2007 – National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern announced today that the league will open an office in London as part of its ongoing effort to bring the NBA closer to its growing fan base throughout Europe. The office, which is planned to open this summer, will focus on grassroots and business development efforts in Great Britain and throughout Europe.

NBA to Open London Office
Take a look as NBA commissioner David Stern discusses the NBA's plan to open an office in London this summer.

In addition, the office will focus on basketball development leading up to 2012 Olympic Games and look to work closely with the British Olympic Association and other basketball groups to grow the world's second most popular sport in the region.

The announcement came in conjunction with a meeting today between Stern, London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Think London, the foreign direct investment agency for the capital, at NBA headquarters in New York City. The meeting, which was part of Mayor Livingstone’s trip to New York for the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, was focused on expanding the NBA’s support of British basketball and the league’s overall efforts to grow the game around the world.

London will host a preseason exhibition game between the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves on October 10 as part of NBA Europe Live presented by EA Sports. Tickets for the game, which will be held at the O2 arena -- London’s new state of the art NBA-style arena, are almost completely sold out.

“London is a magnificent city and the meeting with Mayor Livingstone today was beneficial in the planning for the future of the NBA and the growth of basketball in Great Britain,” said Commissioner Stern. “The opening of an NBA office in London and the upcoming exhibition game will help establish a more permanent and prominent NBA presence in the region.”

“The NBA’s decision to establish an office in London reinforces the capital’s position as a world-class city of sport and entertainment,” said London Mayor Ken Livingstone. “This summer will see the Tour de France starting in the capital and later this year we will host our first NFL American football game. In October, London will host an NBA game at the O2 between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics as part of NBA Europe Live. These events are giving Londoners an even clearer taste of the sporting spectacle that is to come when the Olympic and Paralympic Games come to London in 2012. They also show that winning the Olympics is making London the world capital of sport for the next four years".

Michael Charlton, Chief Executive of Think London, the foreign direct investment agency for London, added “Think London welcomes the NBA as one of the first high-profile sports wins that is related to the Games. The NBA will join a number of other high profile US brands who are located in London, including the Walt Disney Company and Coca Cola.” Think London is working with the NBA on the planning for its London office.

The league will stage training camps and exhibition games with NBA teams throughout Europe for the second straight year as part of 2007 NBA Europe Live presented by EA Sports. This year’s tour, which will feature the Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors, will cover six European cites, including a game at London’s O2 Arena. After the 2007 NBA Europe Live Tour, NBA teams will have played 41 games in 15 cities throughout Europe over the past two decades. The inaugural NBA Europe Live visited seven cities in five countries and drew more than 36 million viewers, 115,000 spectators, and 18 marketing partners in October 2006.

As the number of NBA players born in Europe has risen, the league’s popularity on the continent has increased dramatically. At the end of the 2006-7 season, 52 players who were born in Europe maintained spots on NBA rosters.

The League’s popularity in Great Britain has been strengthened by the recent success of Chicago Bulls swingman Luol Deng. Deng’s strong play on the court, which included winning the 2006-2007 Joe Dumars Trophy as the NBA’s Sportsmanship Award winner, has led to increased attention and interest for the team and the league in the UK. Deng will join his fellow NBA countrymen Pops Mensah-Bonsu of the Dallas Mavericks and Kelenna Azubuike of the Golden State Warriors as part of the Great Britain men’s national basketball team in the European national team qualifying tournament this summer.

About the NBA The NBA, founded in 1946, is a global sports and entertainment brand that features 30 teams in the United States and Canada. During the 2006-07 season, the NBA will distribute 45,000 hours of programming to 215 countries and territories in 41 languages. The league’s worldwide reach can also be seen with 83 international players on NBA rosters. Domestically, the NBA broadcasted 142 games on national television last season on ABC, TNT, ESPN and ESPN2, and eclipsed attendance records for the third consecutive season.

NBA TV, launched in 1999 as the first 24-hour television channel created and operated by a professional sports league, is distributed to 66 countries. NBA merchandise is sold in more than 100,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents; gets more than half of its visitors from outside the United States.

As fans witness tremendous performances on the court, some of the NBA’s most significant efforts occur off the court. NBA Cares is the league's social responsibility initiative that builds on the NBA's long tradition of addressing important social issues in the United States and around the world. During the first year of NBA Cares, teams, current and former players, and the league office contributed 205,000 hours of hands-on volunteer service, raised more than $32 million for charity, and created 109 places where kids and families can live, learn or play. NBA Cares works with internationally-recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: UNICEF; Reading Is Fundamental; Habitat for Humanity; Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Feed the Children, Special Olympics, KaBoom!, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and many others.