NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had a meeting this week in Paris and a gracious host asked him how he takes his coffee.
“Was … not?” French President Emmanuel Macron asked.
Over that coffee, the NBA boss and the French leader agreed to work together in hopes of continuing to grow the game of basketball internationally – a marriage that is perfectly timed, considering how whose French star Victor Wembanyama is a few months away from arriving. to the NBA and the Paris Olympics about 18 months away.
The NBA announced several details on Thursday, including a collaboration between the league and the LNB, which is the main pro league in France; events that France and the NFA will work on together as part of the development towards Paris 2024; expanded youth programs; and further work to develop the game in Africa, with both the league and France committed to further investments there including facilities capable of hosting African Basketball games.
“His belief, I think, is certainly very similar to that of the NFA about the power of sport to bring people together and the constructive force it can be and even as a global engine to create commonality and empathy among people,” Silver said.
Macron, said Silver, happened to align his schedule with a BAL game during a visit to Rwanda in the inaugural playoffs of the league. Macron watched the match with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
“He’s very knowledgeable about all of our global plans, especially in Africa,” Silver said.
Macron had other pressing matters on his schedule this week. At least 1.1 million people protested on the streets of Paris and other French cities on Thursday amid strikes across the country against plans to raise the retirement age, but Macron – who met Silver on Wednesday in Paris, and was at Franco-Spanish summit in Barcelona on. Thursday – he has said he will press ahead with the proposed pension reforms.
Basketball was probably just a short distraction.
“I am happy and proud of the NPA’s choice to make France and Paris one of its privileged playgrounds in the world,” Macron said. “It shows the special and long-term relationship that France has with the NFA. With the improvement of our training, the performance of our national teams and the hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic games in Paris 2024, we now have the opportunity to go further and enter into a useful and lasting partnership for the benefit of French basketball, as well. in support of our development policy in Africa.”
The NBA is planning another game in Paris next year, Silver said; He spoke on Thursday just before a game between the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, with Wembanyama and his family sitting courtside.
Silver and Macron also discussed plans for Paris 2024, including how the current schedule calls for preliminary games in Lille – about 140 miles north of Paris. That decision is not final, and has been subject to criticism given the high-profile status of basketball on the Olympic program.
“He reassured us that everything would be OK,” Silver said.
Other topics covered by Silver on Thursday included:
While Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio was in Paris this week, talks continued between the league and the union in New York.
“Our colleagues are back in New York, negotiating as we speak,” Silver said. “They’ve been meeting all week, going from issue to issue and trying to work through those issues that divide us. I would say, however, that I think we start from a very strong foundation.”
The NFA and its players have until February 8 if either side wants to withdraw from the current collective bargaining agreement. That deadline has already been pushed back once since mid-December, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it were pushed back again.
“There is a strong sense of partnership between the players and the league,” Silver said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have disagreements.”
Among the issues the NBA and NBPA have been discussing in recent weeks is a return to allowing players to enter the draft school straight out of high school without waiting a year — that move is expected to count in the next CBA — together with what will be in the series. that she considers a “spending cap” that would greatly enhance the rules regarding how much teams can spend each year on their roster.
With LeBron James now perhaps just weeks away from catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and becoming the NBA’s career scoring leader, Silver revealed some of the ideas the league is considering to honor the achievement.
“I have no doubt that we will stop that game and make sure we set a record for history, for the ball, for the basket, for the uniform,” Silver said. “We will stop and make sure we have done our jobs as archivists of the NFA. At the same time, there is that balance that they will be playing against a team that will really want to win that night and will not be disturbed. We’ll probably do something for now, but then we’ll plan a bigger celebration.”
James is on pace to break the record in early February — and if he does, the bigger celebration Silver talked about will likely come at the NBA’s All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City later that month.
BACK TO NORMAL
The last time the NBA played in Paris before Thursday was January 2020 – just under two months before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I actually remember when we were here then, January in 2020, we started to see people wearing masks. People knew something was coming,” Silver said. “No one predicted at that time that the world was going to shut down and we would go on playing in a bubble, etc. Our hope, of course, is that we have contained that pandemic, and the worst is behind us. us. We hope so.”
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