NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is cautious about Saudi investment in the NBA: ‘It’s a two-edged sword’

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Saudi Arabia has been investing in sports all around the world and it seems like it’s only a matter of time that they knock on the NBA’s door. However, league commissioner Adam Silver believes they should remain cautious over the opportunity, as he considers it to be a double-edged sword.

During a recent interview on “The Dan Patrick Show”, Silver gave his honest take on upcoming investments from Middle Eastern countries, talking about both advantages and disadvantages using their recent merge with PGA as an example.

“When the Saudis invest in sports, it gets outsized attention,” the commissioner said. “Now, I don’t want to complain about that because we want to get outsized attention. On the other hand, somebody could go down the list there. They are investors in some of our largest American corporations. Some of the most well-known brands have investments from them.

“And I also think it’s a two-edged sword. I hear the comments about sportswashing. … I think people learn about these countries, learn about what’s happening in the world in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. So I think the media does its job.”

Check out this Thursday’s episode of Patrick’s podcast show to catch the full interview with Silver:

Earlier this year, reports sprouted about how the NBA was changing the rule book to allow international wealth funds to buy a minority stake in league franchises, including the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. However, Silver and company would only permit a maximum of 20% ownership.

The Middle Eastern interest has not only gotten to professional golf, but most importantly they’ve made their way into European football. Not too long ago, they bought English Premier League squad Newcastle United, and now they are being linked to the WWE.

The NBA expects to keep building their relationship in the Middle East with more preseason games

Let’s not forget that the NBA is in expansion mode ever since they returned to Europe a decade ago, and in recent years they’ve been travelling to United Arab Emirates promoting the NBA with preseason matches. Not only were a couple of these matches exhibited last year, there are already games expected to happen before the next campaign.

In spite of all the negative attention that these friendly contests attract, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has shown a brave face to critics who are against these initiatives.

“We continue to believe that using sports, using basketball,” Silver told the press last year. “We can improve people’s lives through sport, and that, as Nelson Mandela famously said, sport can change the world. I think that we bring our games all over the world.”

The next two matches in line for Abu Dhabi next season will be between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks.

“I mean, part of why we choose certain markets is, of course, economics,” he continued. “There’s no question about that. It’s enormously expensive and resource-driven to bring teams around the world. We also want to try bringing our games to places we haven’t been before, and the Middle East is one of those markets.”