1. After the International Basketball Federation allowed pros to compete in the Olympic Games, the NBA took full advantage by sending its stars to Barcelona in 1992. That “Dream Team” outscored opponents by an average of 43 points, won the gold and transformed the NBA into the most appealing sports league in the world. Lesson: Showcase your best product.
2. When NBA players developed a reputation for being foul-mouthed, overpaid bums, the NBA clamped down on “trash talk,” implemented a strict dress code and even banned players from wearing their iPods during warm-ups. Lesson: Guard your corporate reputation.
3. The NBA was the first North American league to see its product as an entertainment experience rather than an athletic contest, ushering in on-court activity during every break in play, from slam-dunking mascots to spectator tricycle races. Lesson: Understand your true value proposition.
4. Before the Dream Team, the NBA was pretty much a domestic business. Then it established teams in Canada and has since held games abroad and built websites in seven languages other than English. Result: today, the league enjoys annual foreign merchandise and TV revenue of about US$800 million. Lesson: Exploit global markets.
5. It’s joked that the last two minutes of an NBA game take longer to play than the first 46. That’s because teams call multiple time outs, sparing no effort to discuss their strategy when the game is really on the line. Lesson: You can never plan too much.