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NBA in 2035

Joe opens the app. He starts creating one of those “director game videos” everyone is talking about. His best friend made one that got over 16 million views. “This is a lot of fun,” he says. He then dwells into that world of cameras, angles, photo filters and tons of programs I never saw before.

The NBA in 2035 is another galaxy. Fans have become an integral part of NBA culture. These personalized videos, where the games are filmed with multiple cameras are a hymn to creativity. You can now watch the same game with thousands of different perspectives, available to everyone. There’s one fan who became famous because he perfectly captured the best moments through the audience reactions. It was a thing a beauty. De Palma would be proud.

I remember that 2016 year when NBA social media had an exponential growth. A. Silver, who always wanted to turn the Association into the first world league, slowly put the pieces in place in 2025. Firstly, NBA created the South American division, for obvious logistic reasons. Some trips became epic. There was a famous superstar who disappeared for two days and missed an important game. “It was the Carnival, I got lost,” he said, laughing. Some pics leaked showing him partying with some friends and lovely Brazilian women, in his boat. The price for that beautiful trip: two hundred thousand dollars fine.

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In Buenos Aires, M. Ginobili – regarded by many as South America MJ – is a recurrent presence in Buenos Aires Basketball, Argentina’s NBA team. Silver was wise. With the help of a very knowledgeable task force, they have foreseen the future. A particular set of rules in the draft, in those early years, between 2025 and 2029 made these teams relevant, not a mere distraction, as some anticipated. Slowly but steady, North American teams became eager to play in South America, taking their families and friends. Some players even found their significant other there. By the end of this early worldwide expansion, NBA games in South America became one of the season’s main event for teams and players, eager to take this opportunity to travel the world and have new experiences. L. Barbosa and Varejão were renowned ambassadors for Rio de Janeiro team, called Cariocas Magicians.

In 2030, NBA spread its wings. This was the year European, and Asia/Oceania divisions were created. London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Rome and Moscow had amazing teams. The London Royals became one of the most prominent, attracting several veterans and franchise players, anxious to experience a part of their careers overseas. The impact of these teams goes way beyond the games results. It proved the NBA could become the first ever worldwide league, with plenty of excellent players. NBA became “the global league”, something not even soccer managed to do. Many NBA players watched Champions League games. Basketball and soccer stars where habitués in the best restaurants and clubs in these European capitals.

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Meanwhile, far east, there was an absolute explosion, a kind of Linsanity applied to a whole continent. The revenue was utterly absurd. NBA got richer and richer. Shaq, Barkley, and K. Smith applauded this effort. Inside the NBA also traveled with the teams. In Australia, the Sydney Hoops Kangurus were known for their incendiary crowd and cool antics. Watching those games live was an experience in itself, regardless of the result. A special section called “Very solid plays” paid tribute to L. Ellis, the Starters well-known international man of mystery. The games against the Raptors were always fun, for obvious reasons. In China, Shanghai Shamans were a tough team to dismantle. The energy in the crowd was electrifying. Tickets were sold months in advance. Some fans made small fortunes reselling the tickets. Complete madness.

As the NBA writing masters (D. Aldridge, Lazenby, Simmons Sekou Smith, Lowe, etc.) chronicled this global expansion, Mr. Silver gushed at his very own creation. He is now preparing to pass the torch. The price for his presence in conferences – where he delivered speeches on how to plan globally – became legendary, Steve Jobs style. Those 225,000,00 dollars charged by Hillary paled in comparison, only peanuts compared to his fees.

“Was it difficult to set this up? How many people were involved? What are the next plans?”

The dream was now a reality. The vision originated by the previous commissioner was real. Ratings exploded worldwide. Now, FIFA global strategists were taking a page of Silver’s book, who was often dubbed as “NBA’s Golden Commissioner.” Like Midas, everything he touched turned to gold.

“It’s all a matter of getting the best people on our side. This is the reflex of years and years of careful planning, following D. Stern dream. The schedule was one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. We are not resting on our laurels, though. There are still may things to improve. We always strive to be better.”

Joe comes over and announces: “It’s done!” We watch it together. He mixed sightseeing with hoops, interviews with virtual reality. He even inserted some beats from one of his rapper friends.

“So? Do you think I have a chance at the tournament?”
“What tournament?”
“The one I told you yesterday, don’t you remember? People from all over the world compete for the best fan footage of a game. Last year I made it to the last 32.”
“I think it’s superb. Don’t get cocky, though, check what the best ones are doing.”
“I always do.”

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I go back to the living room. They make fun of my old school ways. I still watch the games in that ancient TV. Now everyone has VR sets; they watch it anywhere. Cavs-Warriors is about to start. I suddenly remember that memorable year when LBJ, the older kid from Akron, finally got his ring for the land. The excitement of those playoffs. The intriguing storylines. The 3-1 to 3-4. Heaven and hell, intertwined. Curry and LeBron. Ballsy situations. Mr. James decided to retire in 2023. Curious date. He bought the Cavs and is now competing against MJ, on a different stage. He still makes sure poor, talented kids from Akron get scholarships so they can get their education and impact the world in a meaningful way.

Nba has finally met its destiny – the first global league. TV rights went off the roof, publicity in surreal, obscene numbers. Despite this influx of billions, the Association managed to stay grounded. They invested a lot of resources into the “Stay in school” program. The Obamas are a recurrent presence in international venues, merging politics with sports. “It’s all about giving back.” They will attend the upcoming games in Paris. “Bienvenue à Paris,” Parker tweeted. Evidently, I retweet, enjoying the game from my seat.

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