Ralph Riviera: “Paris is essential for the NBA”
The NBA is back in Paris on Thursday, January 19 for the NBA Paris Game between the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons. Enough to give France the opportunity to expand its collaboration with the prestigious American basketball league, as Ralph Riviera, general manager NBA Europe, told CNEWS.
The NBA returns to France three years later. Why so much waiting time?
It’s a real joy for the NBA to return to France and Paris. We came into 2020 with a great poster between the Charlotte Hornets and the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a very nice party. Everyone enjoyed this beautiful evening. And even the week before the game. Unfortunately, a few months later, the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Which stopped us from coming back before. But the NBA is very happy with this return.
France and the NBA is a love story…
We know there are many basketball and NBA fans in France. This is a country that has loved basketball for years. The fans are numerous, we know that. In 2020 we were able to measure how many there were. So it’s normal that we come to Paris. It’s original. Both for the fans and for the development of basketball in France and the NBA.
Especially since France have remained in the spotlight in the NBA spotlight in recent months thanks to Victor Wembanyama, who should be pick in the next draft.
He’s an incredible player and the whole NBA is already a fan of him. The greatest players talk about him, the old ones too. His best actions are now broadcasting in the US and on social networks. It’s also a good cause for promoting the French basketball championship.
Before Paris, the NBA had also achieved something historic by hosting the event in Abu Dhabi for the first time.
We are very happy that we were able to organize a pre-season game in the Middle East for the first time in history (there were two Milwaukee-Atlanta games in Abu Dhabi last October). We have been trying to organize this event for a long time. The process was long, but the result exceeded our expectations. Even better. We have wanted to settle in the Middle East for years. Abu Dhabi proved ideal for the event. It really was a complete success.
Was the feedback good?
It was a great and amazing experience. The players were happy, there were also legends like Shaquille O’Neal. For a week, ten days, the fans were numerous. The children were happy. Partnerships were formed to develop basketball in the United Arab Emirates. We will be back, that’s for sure.