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Mark Tatum: The world is getting better and that makes basketball a more attractive game

The U.S. men’s national basketball team got a reality check on the road to Olympic gold this week, losing two consecutive exhibition games against Nigeria and Australia. But for Mark Tatum, the deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the NBA, those defeats marked a victory of sorts, in the league’s decades long quest to internationalize the game of basketball. “The world is getting better, and I think that makes basketball a much more attractive game for the world to follow,” Tatum said, in an interview on Yahoo Finance Live. “We’re happy to see that level of competition continue to grow and grow.”
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The league has continued to seize the opportunity, taking their pre-season games abroad, signing international contracts with networks including China’s Tencent, and expanding its social media presence, where nearly 70% of their followers are outside of the U.S. “Our business around the world continues to grow, which fuels talent from all those parts of the world into our league, which makes the league that much more attractive to our fans on a global basis,” Tatum said.
In a statement to 11Alive, National Basketball Social Justice Coalition Board Member Mark Tatum said their goal is to make voting easier and more accessible for everyone. “In 2020, the NBA family came together to support greater access to voting and encourage civic participation. That effort led to dozens of NBA team facilities, including State Farm Arena, home to the Atlanta Hawks, serving as voting centers and safely hosting hundreds of thousands of voters,” Tatum said. “We also created the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, in partnership with the players union, with the goal of expanding voting access and addressing issues of racial injustice,” Tatum added. “The bills moving through a number of state legislatures would, if enacted, make it harder for people to vote.”

League expecting to resume overseas games next season

The NBA is still looking at scenarios that could allow teams to play in Europe and China again next season, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said Tuesday. Tatum also said the NBA’s season-opening doubleheader Tuesday night would be shown in China on Tencent, a league streaming partner. But the coronavirus pandemic is preventing the league from playing any games outside the U.S. this season, except possibly a return by the Toronto Raptors to Canada — something that won’t happen before March at the earliest.
Commissioner Adam Silver said at the All-Star break this past February that the league’s issues with China would lead to perhaps as much as $400 million in lost revenue — and that was before the pandemic struck and led to even more revenue missed leaguewide. “There’s no doubt that we have a long history in China, a more than 40-year history of doing business in China, and that we remain committed to people-to-people exchange with the hundreds of millions of fans that we have there,” Tatum said. “Playing global games has been and will continue to be an important part of how we engage with our fans in China and in other parts of the world, as well.”