This week I lost count of how many ways the United States clashed with China, but the one that probably strikes home with many is the drama that played out with the NBA. Basketball Commissioner Adam Silver struck a difficult balance to mollify outrage in China following a tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, who expressed support for the Hong Kong democracy protests.
Even with a job that requires knowing what is happening outside the U.S., I was surprised to learn of the NBA's reach until I dug into the subject. City National has a team that focuses on leagues, teams and players. Led by Boris Gluzberg and Todd Burach out of New York, the bank team also has sports-related relationships in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Miami. They brought me up to speed on what is a most unusual, yet very American export.
Soccer and basketball remain the most popular sports in the world, but the international growth story of the NBA is fascinating. In China, the NBA has between 500 and 800 million fans, twice that of the entire U.S. population. And just a year ago, Silver said he believed basketball could become the No. 1 sport in the world, eclipsing soccer's long dominance.
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