NBA Commissioner David Stern is in attendance at the Bulls-Jazz game and revealed that the league, as well as holding talks with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, had also recently met with representatives from the British Basketball Association, an American-backed group of investors who have pledged to raised the funds to set up a new league in the UK in direct opposition to the incumbent BBL.
According to reports, the BBA is targetting football club owners to back the venture - and has appointed a well-known broker, Keith Harris of investment house Seymour Harris, to approach investors with a view to establishing eight franchises from 2010.
"We meet with anybody who would like to meet with us," Stern revealed. "Most recently something called the BBA said they’d like to come in and give us a report and we said come on in and tell us what you’re doing.
"We meet regularly with the BBL and the BBP – I’ve got my acronyms just perfectly aligned, and I know I’m supposed to call it Team GB and not Team UK and I do that now too. And, it's the same thing that goes on when we talk about the Premiership.
"You have to sell tickets and sell sponsorships and have a good product on the court both as a game and for entertainment purposes; so that when people come they want to come back. The sponsorship is important not just because it puts money in your pocket but because you get other companies bigger than you to spend money promoting their brand and yours."
Stern also admitted there is likely to be a regular season game in London ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
"We hope to do it and we still hope to do it and we are running out of runway, but we will likely do it. You know, the friendlies have been very effective for us, sold out games – you could look at see the Chicago Bulls uniforms that are dotting the concourse. I went expecting to hear some Americanisation, but I didn’t – I heard only, you know, GB – Team GB was well represented among the Chicago Bulls faithful.
"But there seems to be some notionality that a regular season game would add in some way to the commitment that we have. It won’t – but we’re going to do it anyway. The commitment that we have is from the 30-plus people that come into the office, arrange for the grass-roots events, arrange for the interviews with the media, arrange for the player visits and do all of the things that help connect us to this community."
Among the celebrities in the courtside seats at The 02 were several soccer stars, including Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermaine Defoe and Chelsea’s Joe Cole, former WBC cruiserweight champion David Hay, and music group JLS.