Italy Rumors

Inside his travel bag were two reels with 90 minutes of one-inch film wrapped around them. If he was successful, he could open his country’s eyes wider than ever to the NBA’s most famous teams — the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. For the first time in the league’s history, a game was going to be shown to an international audience, and Andrea Bassani couldn’t make a mistake with the cargo. If those tapes didn’t make it to Italy in time for the broadcast, the first televised NBA game outside of America would be delayed. “I would’ve taken the next flight back to New York and stayed there forever,” said Bassani, who was nervous about what would happen if questioned by customs officials about the tapes.
Saturday’s meeting between the Celtics and the Lakers will be broadcast live in Italy on Sky Italia, which will also show the 1981 game, a full-circle moment for a league that’s seen its net stretch to all corners of the globe since Bassani got his tapes past customs officers. “Our league has done a great job of branding itself, not only here in the United States but all around the world,” said Detroit coach Dwane Casey, who coached in Japan’s professional leagues. “Now it’s instant. It’s instant. Once we play this game tonight, you can call somebody over in Japan and they’ve seen it or at least seen the highlights of it. That’s a good thing.”
For the first time in the league’s history, a game was going to be shown to an international audience, and Andrea Bassani couldn’t make a mistake with the cargo. If those tapes didn’t make it to Italy in time for the broadcast, the first televised NBA game outside of America would be delayed. “I would’ve taken the next flight back to New York and stayed there forever,” said Bassani, who was nervous about what would happen if questioned by customs officials about the tapes.
The NBA is now broadcast in 47 countries in 32 languages. Some of its biggest stars were born outside of the U.S. In 2019, the Toronto Raptors — a team that took the first European player No. 1 overall, Italian center Andrea Bargnani — won the NBA title with a team full of international players and staff. Before there were fiber optics and satellite coordinates, though, there was Bassani, his tapes and his luggage. Before Bassani, there was Giorgio Gandolfi, a basketball journalist from Italy enamored with the NBA and charming enough to make friends with some of the league’s most influential people.
Steve was going to play in Italy but finally received his trade wish in late August. The Houston Rockets traded for him in an eleven player deal. Francis sat down to discuss his thought process about almost playing in Italy just a few months ago. (Via Gully TV): “We were looking at Italy. We would’ve probably been the first ones to do it, you know just until that contract was up. I was going to take the chance because they would’ve gave me more than my rookie contract overseas.”