From Hang Time to Prime Time: Business, Entertainment, and the Birth of the Modern-Day NBA

Atria. Dec. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781982103958. $27. SPORTS
Moving beyond a simple explanation that Larry Bird, Erving Johnson, and Michael Jordan saved the NBA, writer Croatto details how a systematic shift in business, marketing, and organizational decisions in the late 1970s and 1980s contributed to the league’s global domination. NBA teams faced financial difficulties during the 1970s and 1980s; the league remained solvent by acquiring a new TV contract, restructuring the collective bargain agreement, and creating revenue sharing between teams. Commissioner David Stern understood that the NBA was in the entertainment business as well as the basketball business. As a result, the league concentrated marketing strategy on promoting players over teams. The author shows how, in order to improve the sport’s reputation, the NBA produced their own TV and video content, focusing on exciting highlights, and explains how the rise of sneaker culture and hip-hop synergized with the aesthetic that the league tapped into. Croatto goes into depth about the Jordan-Nike collaboration, the All-Star game, and ABA-NBA merger.
VERDICT A well-researched work for readers interested in sports business and NBA history. Casual basketball fans should seek out Jackie MacMullan’s Basketball: A Love Story.
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