Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
July 11, 2015: The NBA continues to make news during the Summer of 2015, adding to its free agency, trade and player re-signings the debut of Saturday Night NBA on ABC, an eight-game schedule during 2015-16 under the umbrella programming of ESPN on ABC.
The schedule will begin Jan. 23, 2016. ABC’s and ESPN’s NBA pre-game show, NBA Countdown, will precede the games. Saturday Night NBA on ABC will also be available on both the ESPN3 and WatchESPN platforms.
The NBA and NBA Players Assn. also unveiled the full rosters for the first NBA game in Africa, scheduled for Aug. 1 in Ellis Park Arena, Johannesburg, South Africa.
NBA Africa Game 2015, featuring a Team Africa vs. Team World format, will air live in the U.S. on ESPN at 9 AM (ET).
Team Africa, comprised of players born in Africa and second-generation African players, will be led by five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) and team captain and two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng (Miami Heat). Team World, comprised of players from the rest of the world, will will be lead by head coach Lionel Hollins (Brooklyn Nets) and team captain Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers).
With the addition of Saturday Night NBA on ABC, ABC and ESPN will now combine to televise NBA games four days per week (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday), January-April, including three in prime-time.
ABC also remains the exclusive home of the NBA Finals.
ABC and ESPN are entering their 14th consecutive season as a national broadcast partners with the NBA (since 2002-03 season). A new rights agreement begins with the 2016-17 season.
“The creation of Saturday Night NBA on ABC is an important moment in the long, successful relationship between ESPN and the NBA," John Skipper, ESPN President, said in a statement. "The NBA’s massive popularity continues to open doors for new, collaborative opportunities, and this new series demonstrates ESPN’s commitment to showcase the NBA as often — and across as many platforms – as possible. . . . We expect to establish this series as a big-game destination for NBA fans, along the lines of what we’ve accomplished in college football with Saturday Night Football on ABC.”
According to Ben Sherwood, Disney/ABC TV President, “Through our great partnership with ESPN, we’re thrilled to be able to bring the best in basketball to our prime-time viewers on Saturdays beginning this January while building on our great Sunday afternoon NBA lineup.”
Regarding the league's Africa 2015 game, also named to the Team Africa roster: Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets), Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs), Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolvesl), Festus Ezeli (Golden State Warriors), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Luc Mbah a Moute (Sacramento Kings).
Named to the Team World roster: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls), Jeff Green (Memphis Grizzlies), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics), Evan Turner (Boston Celtics) and Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic;).
A group of marketing partners have come on board as the NBA prepares for its first game in Africa, including Nike, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, South African Airways (SAA), Econet Global Limited; SuperSport an official NBA broadcast partner since 2013, which will broadcast the game live across Sub-Saharan Africa; and 947, the official radio partner of NBA Africa Game 2015.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will attend the game along with NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo and NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon.
The game will support the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa, SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The said it has had more than 35 players from Africa on NBA rosters since Hakeem Olajuwon was drafted in 1984. The league opened an African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010 and recently launched Jr. NBA leagues in Mozambique and Uganda as part of its "comprehensive grassroots programs across the continent."
NBA, Marketers En Route To Africa
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