NBA Kicks Off International Games

Basketball fans all around the world can get a first look at their team beginning on Friday when the NBA kicks off a series of international games abroad. Not only is it an early look at the players, it's also a way for the league to make money, NBA Commissioner David Stern told CNBC.

NBA Commissioner David Stern
NBA Commissioner David Stern

“Our games are on TV in 215 countries in 43 languages and none of those countries do we give it away, so it is a very profitable opportunity for us,” Stern said.

Six NBA teams will travel as part of the league’s international preseason, playing games in Europe, China and Mexico.

Following the October games, the NBA will have played 114 games in 17 countries since the league began playing overseas in 1989.

China has been a major focus for the NBA due to the sheer size of the country, Stern said, but the league has also recently opened an office in India.

“India has over a billion people in the country. We only need 300 million to be interested in basketball,” he said.

Another country the NBA is setting its sights on is Brazil. With the World Cup and 2014 Olympics there, Stern sees opportunity and a lot of interest in the sport by both men and women.

The international games are win-win for the NBA, especially right now when a third of the league is unprofitable.

Money earned from TV rights, merchandise sales and other commercial arrangements by the 125,000 vendors in six countries are part of a revenue sharing agreement which gives players 50 percent of the money earned from these games.

Stern told CNBC once the collective bargaining agreement is fully implemented, he expects all of the teams in the league will have the opportunity to make money, a dynamic he has not seen in his 28-year tenure as league commissioner.

Whether each team actually is profitable is up to each team's management, but Stern said the NBA sets up everyone for cyclical success. He said everything they do is designed to bring up the lower third of the teams to keep the league competitive.

“Every team can make a profit and compete. As long as it isn’t the same two teams that don’t make a profit every year I’m okay with that,” Stern said.

—By CNBC's Jessica Golden