Basketball is thriving in traditional territories from the USA to Eastern Europe. But an initiative from the NBA is working to take basketball to new places – and make it part of the daily routine for millions more people. NBA Asia managing director Scott Levy talks to Homecourt about the way basketball is being used to enrich the lives of young kids right across South-East Asia.
This feature comes courtesy of Homecourt – a digital basketball publication with a unique perspective on the culture of basketball and the way it enriches lives, right across the world. More info at Homecourtmag.com
By now, we all know the Philippines is a uniquely basketball-crazy country. The flip flop leagues, the rustic courts surrounded by coconut palms and coastal breezes, and the world-famous Tenements. The frenzied fandom isn’t news to any of us but, when Filipino 7-footer Kai Sotto officially signed to the NBA G League, the basketball world was put on alert. South-East Asia was making moves. What’s even more surprising is that it isn’t just the Philippines anymore; the whole region is adopting basketball as a favoured pastime.
Like the English Premier League, the NBA has become richer for its global expansion. Players from all corners of the world have found success in the league, in turn increasing interest, viewership and participation in their home countries. In the 2000s, Australia has become a new breeding ground for NBA and WNBA talent but, Kai Sotto aside, the rest of the Asia-Pacific region still represents a great opportunity for talent development and grass-roots participation.
Australia, home to Ben Simmons, Liz Cambage, Lauren Jackson and more, is a unique case. From a young age, kids have access to facilities and coaching that many other countries in the Asia Pacific region simply don’t have. NBA Asia, based in Hong Kong but active right across the region, are working to change that with the Jr. NBA Program.
NBA Asia Executive Vice President and Managing Director Scott Levy explains that the program isn’t necessarily designed to breed the NBA stars of tomorrow, but to improve and enrich the lives of young kids across Asia through the game of basketball.
“The goal of the program is to engage youth and teach them that sport is an important part of their life, and it can help them, whether they want to achieve at a high level for their local basketball team, or national team, or even the NBA,” Levy explains. “But they can also apply what they learn at home or in school, work and throughout their lives. The end goal is to help to develop young people into strong, active, healthy adults.”