If the NBA Is Disney, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal Are Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Claimed Lakers Legend’s Ex Agent in 1993

The NBA is arguably the biggest basketball league on the planet today. Bringing exciting action to fans across the world, the league has become a global stage. And it saw its success by making the most marketable stars into global icons. Notably, the likes of Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal paved the way for the NBA to become the billion-dollar sports league it is today. Compared to the biggest sports in the USA, the National Basketball League started late. Coming to force in 1946, James Naismith’s game had got the world stage. In the early days, the league was full of American players. However, the rise of the NBA has gone in every nation today.

In just the previous season, 121 international players took the NBA floor, a record eighth season with more than 100 stars from around the world. It all came down to the league’s marketing & a few of the biggest names in sports for the NBA to make the leap. During an interview, Shaq’s former agent drew a comparison between Disney and the NBA.

Michael Jordan was one of the first players to push the NBA into new global heights. Signing million-dollar deals even before making the league. However, that was only the start. Soon the biggest names in the NBA were making millions even before playing. Notably, Shaquille O’Neal became the biggest endorsement figure as his name turned into a brand. Former NBA commissioner once spoke about the player’s impact and compared them to characters of mass media giants, including Disney.

Shaq’s former agent, Leonard Armato said: “In a lot of ways, the NBA has already become an entertainment company. David Stern says it’s just like Disney. He’s got these characters, Michael Jordan and Shaq, who sell merchandise the same way Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck sell toys for Disney.” Endorsements have become a major pull for the biggest faces in the league. It has got to a point where players now make more from their deals as compared to their NBA salaries. Notably, the reigning Finals MVP Stephen Curry nets over $40 million every season with an array of sponsors lined up.

The NBA has adapted its entire marketing strategy around its biggest stars. Annually, the league makes over a billion dollars in merchandise sales alone. The big market serves as a massive opportunity for star players. Likewise, the NBA is on the same track. As the best athletes turn into global figures, the NBA grows along with them.

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