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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: NBA EMEA Vice President, Jesus Bueno

After the unveiling of the Jr. NBA League with Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv on Monday, the Sports Rabbi had a chance to interview the NBA EMEA Vice President, Basketball Business Operations Jesus Bueno about the NBA, International basketball and more!

Global Branding of the NBA game, this whole Jr. NBA is a whole different prospect, how is it that you guys are always thinking and looking at the next step?

“I think that David (Stern, former NBA Commissioner) was a great visionary firstly, he put the start to all this. Adam (Silver, current NBA Commissioner) is also a great visionary; we need to grow the game, not only the brand. You need to have a passion for the game, to understand the game and understand these guys are good, and how good they are. It’s not only about media, it’s about experiences and touching the ball and loving it but understanding what these players can do.”

What’s your vision for the game of basketball?

“I think it’s a great vision they have right now, in the past we were just showing the games and putting the brand out there, now kids can just go on social media, or to the apps and they can see and learn from the players online. They have everything in their hands on mobile. The next step is continuing, we have to be there, we have to be where the kids are. We are adapting and not controlling where the people are taking us.”

Euroleague and NBA partnership?

“We have a long history with the EuroLeague, lots of games together. We want to work with everyone that wants to grow the game of basketball. We understand you want to see Omri Casspi against Maccabi Tel Aviv. We need to grow the game together.”

10 years from now, where do you see the NBA?

“My dream would be that we have 500 leagues all over the world in every corner, growing the game of basketball. That’s the dream. We see that virtual reality is going to give the fans an opportunity to choose where the fans will sit. The idea is they put on their glasses and can sit in either the first row or the middle, and you can hear the conversations between the players, this is the dream and we are going to be ready for that.”

Do you see that one day you will create a junior NBA or Junior EuroLeague?

“We are talking with the EuroLeague all the time. Everything is on the table and let’s see what can grow the game and we will see and study what makes sense for us.”

Barcelona and Real Madrid aren’t involved?

“We are working with the Spanish federation and they will work with every city. They couldn’t work with us individually.”

Is it possible to have a competition that represents a team from each country?

“It is possible and I think it will happen in the future, but we haven’t decided to do it right now, but the engagement is increasing.”

Do you think it’A possible to have a team from the NBA come here for preseason, it’s happened but not for a very long time. The Miami Heat was the last one. Is it possible?

“Yes, it’s very possible. We have limits in our games all over the world, but it is possible as Maccabi Tel Aviv is a very big club and it’s possible.”

It’s an amazing partnership between the NBA and Maccabi Tel Aviv, any thoughts on where this could lead?

“Well, we clearly want to grow the game of basketball. In order to be very successful all the brands, have to have fans from everywhere. We want to grow the leagues, and the games for the kids.”