The new life of French basketball after Wembanyama

French leader Elie Okobo during the match between AS Monaco and Maccabi Tel-Aviv at Stade Louis II in Monaco on April 27, 2023.

The old Palais omnisports de Paris-Bercy (Accor Arena) will be sold out on Saturday, December 30 for the last event of 2023. 15,843 spectators attended the All-Star Match of the French championship – “name” Betclic Elite, which is the “exhibition” meeting of French basketball.

The best French players face the most talented foreigners in the league in a meeting free of sporting issues but full of American-style “shows” (dunk contests, three-point shoot-outs, etc.).

A year ago, Victor Wembanyama, then a Boulogne-Levallois player, won the MVP award (Most valuable player, He was chosen as the “best player of the game” in this meeting organized by the National Basketball League (LNB) to highlight the best elements. And although the French phenom has since spread his wings to the National Basketball Association (NBA, North America’s major league), his big footprint continues to leave his mark on the French championship.

New sponsors after “Wembamania”

LNB President Philippe Ausseur admits this“There was a risk of falling back into anonymity after Victor’s death.” For French basketball. But for now all signals are green, explained as follows: World The leader was elected at the end of June. The fear of a decrease in theater attendance, which increased with the “Wemby” atmosphere that everyone wanted to see before going to the NBA, did not materialize. as in 2022 “The occupancy rate of the enclosures is 84 percent”, Philippe Ausseur assures. This is well above the 79 percent in the pre-Covid-19 period.

One of the pleasures of this first part of the season is the broadcasting of matches that French basketball has had trouble with for a long time. Paid streaming platform Skweek has tripled its subscriber base since acquiring the rights (in June). The L’Equipe channel occasionally becomes the fifth most watched national channel when each Elite airs the best poster of the day.

The teams are not complaining about the spotlight remaining on the championship. All French clubs except Limoges, Strasbourg and Boulogne-Levallois have seen an increase in their budgets this season; again a result of the comet Wembanyama. “Many sponsors came to the clubs because they saw the economic potential of the league. “Nobody can deny what this kid has contributed to French basketball,” he said. underlines Mr. Ausseur.

Only Metropolitains 92 are struggling to keep going after their magical year with “Wembamania.” In fact, the Hauts-de-Seine club, unaccustomed to the exposure it experienced, almost disappeared in the summer due to economic problems arising from the tension between the town halls of Boulogne and Levallois-Perret. It is in last place in the rankings with two wins in eighteen matches, far from the second place it achieved in June.

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