Everyone knows sports equals big business. Teams are owned by billionaire investors, average player salaries are measured by the number of zeros they contain, and television contracts dwarf the GDPs of many countries. But what goes on behind the scenes of the organizations that attempt to corral, manage, and grow these enterprises? This November, the CBS Sports Business Association traveled to midtown to visit the NBA’s headquarters in an attempt to find out more.

The group of 28 current CBS students met with many of the NBA’s movers and shakers, including Tatia Williams, VP of Legal and Business Affairs; Andy Lustgarten, Senior Vice President Business and Strategic Development; Steve Richard '90, Senior Vice President, Business Development and Operations; and Todd Jacobson, Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility.

Members of the Sports Business Association put that access to good use, asking these key players to discuss their views on a range of topics, including the international expansion of the league, utilization of technology to increase fan engagement, the new revenue sharing system amongst teams, and the future of the league after a new commissioner takes his position in February 2014.

Panelists also shared insights from their career paths and discussed how their respective roles played a part in the evolution of the league. Steve Richard '90, CBS alum and former CFO of NBA China, discussed the rise in popularity of the league in Asia. The NBA is trying innovative ways to leverage the sport’s popularity in a region where fans are unable to watch games live due to the time zone difference. Richard shared the NBA’s plans for creating interactive “brand extension” sites in China where, for example, a fan can go to an NBA-themed restaurant.

The SBA has visited the NBA headquarters in previous years and continues to build a strong relationship with the league. While only some of the students who attended the event are seeking a career in sports, the entire group found the event extremely insightful.