The NBA's experiment with regular-season games overseas has worked so well that Li Shuangfu of Sina (h/t Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com) is reporting that the league will be expanding the international schedule starting next season.
According to @lishuangfu Lakers & Warriors will play games in China next fall, Pacers & Rockets will play in Taipei & Philippines— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 8, 2013
According to NBA.com, 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.
What is the best international market for the NBA?
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.