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The NBA visits Paris or the perpetual reinvention of the North American basketball league

Twenty-five years ago, Adam Silver ran NBA Entertainment, a division of the NBA; and it was in Paris, at the start of the 1997-1998 NBA season, that the now NBA commissioner managed to convince Phil Jackson, then Chicago Bulls coach, to give access to his locker room all season long to cameras to capture what was shaping up to be star Michael Jordan’s final season in the big North American league. “If Michael and the boss of the franchise had agreed, Phil would control the locker room, remembers the leader of the NBA. And I remember sitting here convincing him, ‘Let us immortalize this season.’ » In 2020, these images became the series The Last Dance, to immense popular success. And two years later, installed in a living room of a large hotel, not far from the Paris Opera, Adam Silver smiles: “It’s good to be back!” »

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After a first edition in 2020, the North American basketball league is returning to Paris. Thursday, January 19, two years late due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a second regular season game takes place in the French capital. And the places were torn off to see the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons (9 p.m.) compete, at the Accor Arena (formerly the Palais omnisports de Paris-Bercy), two pennant teams from the turn of the 1980s-1990s , but whose results have since faded. “Everything sold out in thirty minutes”welcomes Ralph Rivera, general manager NBA Europe.

Imagined as a way of conquering or stabilizing foreign markets, relocated matches outside the American borders are nothing new for the NBA. This season, after two preseason meetings in Abu Dhabi, a regular season meeting has already taken place in Mexico City. For years, the league has been constantly reinventing itself, multiplying attempts and new formulas. “We try to be innovative and open-minded, explains Adam Silver. We must always be interested in everything. »

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In terms of broadcasting, in particular, the North American league has worked hard to adapt practices to current uses. Dynamic directing, modeling inspired by video games and live streaming of clips on all platforms, the NBA model has spread widely to the rest of world sport. “We can do fantastic things in this area, and experiment with new forms of broadcasting matches, using new media and all kinds of digital applications”, insists Adam Silver. With, as a guideline, this challenge: “continue to innovate, but without losing the tradition that makes the sport so special. »

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