NBA Reportedly Expanding Regular-Season Overseas Games

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers before the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center on January 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The NBA's experiment with regular-season games overseas has worked so well that Li Shuangfu of Sina (h/t Brian Windhorst of is reporting that the league will be expanding the international schedule starting next season. 

According to, there have been 115 games played at various overseas markets. Of that total, 16 have been played in Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom. 

The most recent regular-season game to be played overseas was on Jan. 17 at the O2 Arena in London between the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons. The Knicks won that game by a score of 102-87. 

More impressive than the Knicks' victory was the reported sellout crowd of 18,689 for the game. That figure would actually place the London market in the top 10 for attendance among NBA teams. 

Obviously, one of the keys to selling the game to fans overseas, aside from making it into a special attraction for these countries, is by putting marquee franchises in games. 

Based on the report, it appears the NBA is doing just that. Even though Golden State doesn't have a huge following, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the two most valuable teams in the NBA (h/t Forbes). They are loaded with star power and should be an easy sell. 

The other game that is mentioned, Indiana vs. Houston, might seem dull on the surface, but the Rockets have built up a strong international following over the years thanks to drafting Yao Ming No. 1 overall in 2002. 

Other than soccer, there might not be a more popular sport around the world than basketball. David Stern has done a great job of making sure the NBA embraces that popularity by giving international fans at least a small taste of the world's preeminent hoops organization. 

Now, after years of successful games, the NBA is giving even more back by expanding its presence around the world.