SA slam dunks US basketball deal

2011-12-04 10:00
S'Busiso Mseleku
Top USA basketball sides LA Lakers and New York Knickerbockers will play a league match in South Africa next year.

This is part of a deal signed between the National Basketball Association (NBA), SABC and South African Sports and Recreation Department (SRSA).
The match will probably take place at the FNB Stadium and is likely to be part of the Nelson Mandela Challenge.

The two sides are among the best in the US, with one pundit dubbing them the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates of basketball.

They boast top players such as shooting guard Kobe Bryant who is the highest paid player in the NBA with a yearly salary of $25.2 million (about R201.6 million) which is the lion’s share of the $91.3 million Lakers’ yearly salary bill and the Knickers’ highest paid Carmelo Anthony at $18.5 million.

A delegation each from the SABC and the department have been in New York for the past week finalising the deal.

According to information received by City Press, the public broadcaster will televise NBA matches live while the department will bring the big game towards the end of the year.

The group is accompanied by Amadou Gallo Fall who is the NBA vice-president of Development in Africa and has offices in Sandton.

“We are working on a big thing for the FNB Stadium,” said Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula from New York on Friday.

A highly-placed source within the SABC said that their deal would see the broadcaster beam live NBA matches from “some time next year.”

The SABC who held negotiations with an NBA team led by commissioner David Stern, is said to have got a bargain and will pay “less than R5 million” for the broadcast rights.

“As the matches are played around 3am SA time, the SABC will show them live but will also have to repeat them around 11pm,” said the source.

The deal also falls in line with the NBA’s programme of stretching their wings across the globe. They have have already formed partnerships with European countries such as England and China in Asia. These partnerships have seen several top league matches being played in those countries.

The Lakers played Minnesota Timberwolves in London last year and last month, musician, Jayzee’s team New Jersey Nets locked horns with Toronto Raptors as part of the NBA Europe Live series.

Metro FM DJ Azania Ndoro let the cat out of the bag this week when she tweeted: “Chilling at @HOT97 on @TouchDown326 with Minister of Sport and Receation (sic) Fikile Mbalula talking about NBA coming to SA”.

She later tweeted: “Off to New Jersey to the new Nets Arena.”

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago yesterday said details of the deal will be announced this week when the delegation comes home.

“We are very excited as this will give us a new sport that we did not have rights to before,” he said.“It will also help in development as young people usually take to those sports where they can see their heroes and role models live.”