As an NBA legend who has branched out into the world of football across the Atlantic since his retirement, Steve Nash knows only too well the challenges of breaking into a new market.
A Hall of Fame point guard for almost two decades across two separate spells with the Phoenix Suns and stints with the Dallas Mavericks and LA Lakers, Nash was a two-time MVP and an All Star on eight occasions.
Upon stepping away from the court, his long-standing passion for football took him to Spain, as part of the group which assumed ownership of RCD Mallorca in 2016.
He is well placed to know the demands a new audience brings, particularly as LaLiga turn their attention to breaking into the North American market.
For Nash, patience and time may be the most important aspect, although he also believes that bringing a competitive LaLiga Santander fixture to the States, as has been mooted this year, will be vital for the league’s continued development.
“It takes time to distribute your content, your values… to show people what you stand for and the beauty of the league and the product,” he said.
“Just keep working on it, for LaLiga, coming to America in the summers and playing a game in Miami is very important".
“Making decisions and taking risks like that, which may not be favourable for everybody, are bold and important if you want fans to really take notice because sport in America is very difficult."
“In Spain, football is clearly on top and everything else is below it. In America, you have NFL, basketball just behind it, then baseball, hockey, soccer, golf, tennis."
“Everyone is fighting for a place … I think it is an opportunity for LaLiga to get in there and fight for some of the market by coming to America in the summer but also by playing a [league] game in Miami or anywhere in the States or Canada. It would be really important for growing the fanbase.”
Expanding into a market where sports such as Nash’s beloved basketball reign supreme is tough. However, Nash insisted that there is plenty of room for Spanish football to make their mark and he believes that fans in the region have shown a real hunger for football and LaLiga in particular.
“There are plenty of sports fans in America. There is a big appetite for sport. Football is growing year after year and that includes Major League Soccer, where the values of the franchises are growing.”
The 1996 first round NBA draft pick also explained why he thinks the time is right for LaLiga to grow in the US.
“There are many, many fans of the big players in Spain and of the big clubs so I think now it is about getting more and more people to actually watch LaLiga and not just the Champions League or Real Madrid and Barcelona… Americans are thirsty for more football and in Spain, it is fantastic.”