Partnership to Boost Ties with China

NEW YORK, February 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The 2015 NBA All-Star weekend took place in New York City, where NBA headquarters is located. Adam Silver, a native New Yorker and the Commissioner of the NBA, had an exclusive interview with Tencent.

The NBA and Tencent recently announced a five-year digital partnership deal in China, making it the biggest deal ever outside the USA. Silver gave an A+ for the cooperation between Tencent and NBA and expressed his confidence about the future.

"The best years are ahead of us in China," Silver told Tencent, "No question both of us will benefit. It will be a win-win future for Tencent and the NBA."

Two hosting teams

"The participation of the Knicks and Nets make All-Star weekend even bigger."

***The following interview took place prior to the end of All-Star weekend:

Tencent sports: Hi Mr. Silver, nice to see you again. We are here having All-Star weekend in your hometown New York City, How do feel about that?

Adam Silver: Thank you for being here with me. Actually I was born about a mile up the street from here in New York City, so this is very much my hometown. It is a great honor to host All-star weekend here.

Tencent sports: All-Star weekend is being co-hosted by two teams for the first time in history. Where did this idea come from?

Adam Silver: This idea came about because both the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets had recently refurbished or built new arenas in NYC. Madison Square Garden is of course a historical arena, but they transformed it into a modern arena in the last few years. Barclays Center in Brooklyn is relatively new. So we have two beautiful state-of-the-art facilities located only a few miles away from each other. And, we thought why not have these two great NBA teams cooperate and make All-Star weekend even bigger in New York City.

As you may know, New York City has five boroughs. We have Manhattan and Brooklyn both involved. And Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island will be hosting All-Star events as well. All of New York City is involved in this All-Star weekend.

Tencent sports: All-Star Weekend was last held in New York 17 years ago. MJ and Kobe had a great matchup and it seemed like a handover ceremony between two generations. Which player from the young generation will take over from Kobe this year?

Adam Silver: I think we only know a handoff transpired from Michael Jordan to Kobe when we look back, after we see how many champions Kobe subsequently won after that All-Star Game. And I don’t think back 17 years ago, people were making the same declaration. At that point, Kobe was just another great young player. It’s too early to say whom the mentor will pass the torch to. Ultimately it’s determined by who wins the championships. We know though there are several incredibly great young players who will be on the floor on Sunday.

Tencent sports: Which of them do you expect the most from in the All-Star Game?

Adam Silver: I like all the players so much, that I don’t want to name one single player. I think ultimately one great thing about sports is greatness is determined by what they do on the court, not the proclamation the Commissioner makes.

Tencent sports: We notice there is a huge change in the Rising-star Challenge. There is a brand new format this year, USA players vs. International players for the first time. How will the change make the game more exciting?

Adam Silver: I think the change makes the game more exciting because the game becomes so global. There are still many more great players from the United States in the NBA than from other countries. And, from an Olympic and national team standpoint, the United States has been very dominant. Within great growth of the game outside the United States, for example in China and in other great countries around the world, we thought it would create even more excitement if these great USA players were playing against their colleagues who come from other nations. So that’s something we are trying for the first time this year and we think it will be a thrilling and exciting matchup.

Tencent sports: Have you predicted which side will have a better performance?

Adam Silver: I have my own thought, but I’m not prepared to tell you.

Tencent sports: Will the All-Star Game follow this change in the future?

Adam Silver: That’s a really good question. I think it is something we would look at. The issue is, for All-Star weekend, we want the All-Stars to be the very best players regardless of where they are from. And, if we decide that the event should involve a US vs. International game, it might not create the same opportunity for every player to be an All-Star. But having said that, I am sure that is something we will look at depending on how Friday night’s game goes.

Ups and Downs of Big Teams

"I’m a fan of all 30 teams, every team has a chance to win the title."

Tencent sports: Since the All-star game is held in the NYC, we found that several big city traditional powerhouses such as the Knicks, Lakers, 76ers and Celtics are not having a great season. Do you think it is a coincidence?

Adam Silver: I think it is a coincidence. What you have in a 30 team league is the ebb and flow or cycle of winning and losing. Every team goes through a rebuilding stage at some point. I think it just so happens that those teams you mentioned are rebuilding. Other teams in big cities, like the Los Angeles Clippers are having a wonderful year and the Chicago Bulls are rapidly becoming an elite team in this league. So it is just the nature of the league. Not every team can be great every season.

Tencent sports: I heard that you have been a fan of the Knicks since you were a child. What do you think about their performance this season?

Adam Silver: As a child, I was a Knicks fan. But because I now I am working for the league office, I’m a fan of all 30 teams.

Tencent sports: On the other hand, this has been a very unpredictable season. Some unexpected teams such as the Hawks, the Warriors and Raptors are having a great season. How did this happen?

Adam Silver: I will say it’s why they play the game. One thing so special about a team sport like the NBA, is you never know what will happen until the players come together on the court, regardless of what their individual statistics are, as so much is determined by the chemistry that is created among those players. Until they actually play in games together in a real game situation, you don’t know how they are going to perform. I think this is why sports are so exciting, because the outcome is not predetermined.

Tencent sports: For teams like Oakland, Memphis, Toronto, who are from maybe not the biggest market. When they have a chance to win the title, will the games be more exciting?

Adam Silver: I think the NBA is exciting is because every team has the opportunity to chase the title. For example, last year, the San Antonio Spurs won the championship. And San Antonio is located in Texas which is a very small market relatively in NBA. Ideally, we want a system where players can compete for championship, regardless of where they are drafted or end up, if the team he is playing for is well managed and well coached.

What it’s like being the NBA commissioner ?

"The Clippers’ issue was the toughest moment I’ve had and I hope to keep improving the league."

Tencent sports: Earlier this month, you just had your one-year anniversary as the Commissioner. How do you feel about the past year?

Adam Silver: Looking back, it was a very eventful year. There was a lot of excitement around the league and we saw the great growth of basketball around the world. We had our fair share of issues to deal with. When we are looking back, the league dealt with these issues in an appropriate way. And, the game is even stronger than a year ago.

Tencent sports: Which moment was the most challenging one for you in terms of having to make a difficult decision?

Adam Silver: It’s well known that we had some issues regarding the Los Angeles Clippers. No question that was a very challenging time for me. I also look back on some exciting moments for me personally. I had the opportunity to be present when Spurs won the championship. I had the honor of handing out their championship rings to the team. In November, when the season began, one great privilege was drafting Isaiah Austin, who planned to play in the NBA but at the last minute was unable to because of a disease. We had a draft ceremony for him. That was a very special moment for me.

Tencent sports: You just mentioned the Clippers’ issue, was that a tough decision to be make at that time?

Adam Silver: I did what was in the best interest of the league. But, I think it was a difficult time for everyone in the NBA.

Tencent sports: It seemed almost everyone thought you handled it very well then. Both Mr. Stern and Mark Cuban gave you an A+ for your first year’s performance, how would you grade yourself?

Adam Silver: I will leave to others to grade me. I’m pleased that Mr. Stern and Mr. Cuban felt this year went well. And overall, it’s just important to look forward and make sure the league continues to operate in a first class manner. My goal is always to improve.

Partnership with Tencent

"Tencent gets an A+ and plans to make every game available to Chinese fans"

Tencent sports: Tencent just signed the biggest exclusive digital partnership deal with the NBA in China, also the biggest one in global industry, Why did the NBA choose Tencent?

Adam Silver: We chose Tencent because we have a five-year partnership with Tencent and have had fantastic success with them. We have a terrific relationship with the senior executives of Tencent. We know our fans in China love consuming our content on Tencent. And, when we look at the broad number of platforms that Tencent has to reach out to our fans, such as and WeChat, we know this is a fantastic platform to continue growing basketball in China.

Tencent sports: Does the NBA feel satisfied with the performance of Tencent in last five years?

Adam Silver: In the same way others graded me, we would grade Tencent an A+.

Tencent sports: Thank you for the great comments. In the next five years, Tencent and the NBA will launch NBA LEAGUE PASS for the first time ever in China, including NBA Game Time. Furthermore, Tencent will also launch NBA Community and e-commerce on Tencent’s platform. Among the services mentioned above, which one do you think will appeal to fans most?

Adam Silver: I think all the services will, especially the League Pass. Fans in China can get any game, anytime. That’s an incredibly popular feature here in the United States, when we can watch NBA games from around the league on our tablets or smartphones. Especially because the time zone difference in China, when maybe early morning people are in the process of getting to work, the ability to watch the game on whatever device they have will be a huge attraction.

Tencent sports: The League Pass might be a huge revolution for fans in China to watch the game, along with the NBA Summer League and the NBA Draft on PCs and mobile devices. Someone said the Chinese fans are much happier than the American fans. What do you say to that?

Adam Silver: It’s hard to make comparisons. But with a platform like Tencent in China, I can understand why the Chinese fans will be very happy. Because Tencent has put enormous resources into insuring every game is available to all our fans in China.

Tencent sports: With Tencent and the NBA both being leaders in their respective industries, how will this deal help both companies capture future growth?

Adam Silver: By two great organizations like NBA and Tencent, putting their minds together, putting their resources together, to reach our fans in China in the best possible ways. No question both companies will both benefit. It will be a win-win situation for both sides.

Tencent sports: What do you think about the NBA’s growth in China in the next five years with the partnership with Tencent?

Adam Silver: I think our best years are ahead of us in China.

Tencent sports: How do you think of the development of China’s sports economic growth in the next five years? How will the NBA benefit from that?

Adam Silver: Sports as an industry in China is going to experience rapid growth in the next five years. Not just with the NBA, but with other sports, with other industries. There is a lot of focus on the opportunity for development of business of sports in China.

Tencent sports: Thank you, Mr. Silver. Thanks for the time you shared with us. Enjoy a great All-Star weekend here with the All-Stars.

Adam Silver: Thank you for having me on your program. We appreciate all our friends from Tencent making the trip all the way from China, to be here in New York for All-Star weekend. Thank you very much.

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