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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turning 50, NBA Searches For New Gold Worldwide

WASHINGTON -- Life after 50 will have a global flavor for the National Basketball Association.

The league celebrates its 50th birthday on Friday in Toronto with the same opening-night matchup as in 1946, the New York Knicks at Toronto.

All right, the original Toronto Huskies folded long ago. The new Toronto Raptors were formed only last year. But a party is a party.

And with $4 billion in global revenues, the NBA has reason to celebrate.

The 1992 US Olympic gold medal "Dream Team" extended the NBA's popularity worldwide, and subsequent NBA all-star teams at the 1996 Games and 1994 world championships have kept the riches pouring in.

"Our international sales five years ago were nothing," Stern said. "Now they represent 10 percent of our business with nowhere to go but up."

The NBA's 29 teams are seen in 170 nations and heard in 44 languages. Stern sees a future where live NBA action is available around the world by satellite and over Internet computer connections.

But he does not believe in NBA teams outside of North America. Stern said the league could grow to 32 teams by 2000, with Mexico City a likely new city. But Europe and other areas with established leagues are off limits.

With salary costs rising, Boston coach M.L. Carr sees souvenir buyers around the world as vital. "The NBA has done a wonderful job in the process of globalizing the sport and that, eventually, will be another revenue stream that is generated for us all," he said.