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Boutros Boutros, Mark A. Tatum and Isiah Thomas during the press conference to announce the details of the partnership between Emirates and NBA. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Emirates airline top official believes the new partnership with National Basketball Association (NBA) will spur the growth of the sport across the world.

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The UAE airline’s association with sport is well documented and have their presence in many sporting arenas starting with horse racing, tennis, cricket, football, rugby, cycling and sailing. The new partnership with NBA will further expand Emirates association with sports adding to the long list.

Emirates NBA Cup

Emirates and NBA on Thursday announced a multi-year global marketing partnership naming Emirates the Official Global Airline Partner of the NBA. The collaboration also makes Emirates the inaugural title partner of the NBA Cup, previously named the NBA In-Season Tournament, as well as the first-ever referee jersey patch partner of the NBA.

As the first title partner of the Emirates NBA Cup, the global airline will be featured through a co-branded Emirates NBA Cup event logo, with co-branded promotion planned across the NBA’s global social media community and in-arena signage throughout the Emirates NBA Cup Semifinal and Championship games starting next season.

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Boutros Boutros feels the sport sponsorship is an important component in the growth of a particular sport. Image Credit: Supplied

“It is obvious to have such a presence because awareness is very important in terms of building up the brand. While we build our brand, what people sometimes don’t realise is that without the sponsorship money, the sports cannot grow, it cannot reach you and you cannot play it. So indirectly getting associated with sport is the best thing. Sport unites the whole world. Sport and art bring people closer, which fits into the philosophy of Emirates,” Boutros Boutros, Divisional Senior Vice-President, Corporate Communications, Marketing & Brand at Emirates Group, told Gulf News.

Growth at grassroots level

“It’s in the core of our strategy to have a global reach. NBA is a probably today the biggest sport in the world in terms of popularity and TV exposure, and it is the biggest thing USA. Until now, our sponsorship portfolio covered the whole world, except USA. It is a country that has a mix of hundreds of nationality, so we need to support a sport in USA, where it unites us.”

Emirates official is also confident that this deal will help the growth of basketball at grassroots level in the UAE and the region.

“We have a lot of ideas where we need to elaborate with NBA, like they have NBA junior school. Some activities are already happening for us now. Our association with them will be able to bring more knowledge and we need to talk to the associations,” Boutros Boutros added.

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Mark A. Tatum highlights the importance of building a professional circuit in UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

School training programme

“In terms of years, we would like to say, it’s indefinite. In terms games, of course, it’s not in the near future because they are going to play in Abu Dhabi soon. So as long as they are in the UAE, even in the Gulf, we will be very pleased. Basketball is very popular game here and we believe that there is not enough done to push this game to give it the international flavour. So, hopefully, we will to our to the clubs, associations and probably come up with some training,” he said.

The press conference was attended by 12-time NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas and Mark A. Tatum, Deputy Commissioner and COO NBA.

“We’re making big investments here in basketball in the UAE, particularly at the youth level, which I think is needed to build that professional bubble. So we have Junior NBA programmes here and we actually have an NBA Basketball School in Dubai, which is a after-school training program for youth. So we’re going to look to continue to grow those programmes and then, hopefully, those players will over time end up coming in and play in professional leagues. But we’ve been following very closely the developments here in professional basketball in the UAE,” concluded Tatum.