NBA launching 'enebea' campaign

NEW YORK -- After years of courting the European and Asian markets, the NBA is trying to build up its fan base among Hispanics.

The league will launch a marketing campaign on Monday called enebea -- the Spanish pronunciation of NBA. Featuring increased TV and internet exposure, plus community projects, the NBA hopes it will expand its reach among a demographic that makes up 15 percent of its fan base.

"I think that it's a great idea," said New Jersey Nets forward Eduardo Najera, who is Mexican. "I think it's only going to help for Hispanics to identify with players besides the Hispanic ones, and overall I think it's going to be a great chance for them to feel included in the NBA. I'm happy about that."

Najera is one of 19 players in the NBA from six Latin American countries. Puerto Rico, which hosted the regional Olympic qualifying tournament in August, beat the United States in the 2004 Athens games.

The NBA on Sunday staged its 18th game in Mexico, most of any country besides the United States and Canada, when Philadelphia and Phoenix met in Monterrey. NBA TV broadcast the game in Spanish for the first time.

A Spanish-language Web site (www.nba.com/enebea) will include news and features on Hispanic players, and the league plans events to renovate basketball courts in Hispanic neighborhoods.

"With Hispanics comprising such a large percentage of our fan base, we have a responsibility to connect with them in meaningful ways," NBA senior director of U.S. Hispanic marketing Saskia Sorrosa said in a statement.

The NBA has already played games this preseason in Europe and Asia, where the league has long been popular.