New pro basketball league unveils name, logo

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

A brand-new name for the brand-new professional league.

The Japan Professional Basketball League office announced on Tuesday that the new men’s basketball circuit that tips off in the fall of 2016 will be called the “B. League.” The league’s logo was also revealed.

The league office explained the “B” in the league’s name doesn’t just stand for basketball, but is also meant to encompass other meanings such as “Boys” and “Be ambitious.”

“I’ve told everyone, ‘Let’s make a miracle happen,’ ” said Japan Basketball Association president Saburo Kawabuchi, who led the reformation of the sport’s national governing body and the unification of the NBL and bj-league as a co-chairman of the Japan 2024 Task Force, at a Tokyo news conference on Tuesday.

“Along with professional baseball (NPB) and J. League, we want (the new basketball league) to become one of the biggest professional sports, and grow with the interest and support from everyone.”

But it won’t be the 78-year-old Kawabuchi, one of the J. League founders, taking the reins of the B. League. Masaaki Okawa, the JBA secretary general, will handle the heavy lifting of guiding the new hoop circuit as its chairman.

“The two leagues will be unified and the new professional league will begin,” said Okawa, 57, who served as a right-hand-man for Kawabuchi in the J. League as a managing director. “And to make it keep growing, I’m thrilled to carry the big role.”

The JPBL, which will operate the B. League, also announced 11 other newly elected board members, who were appointed at a meeting earlier in the day. The group includes former Olympic taekwondo bronze medalist Yoriko Okamoto, who also serves as a Japan Taekwondo Association board member, Daisuke Nakanishi, the current J. League managing director, and a few presidents from NBL and bj-league clubs.

Four NBL players were invited for the news conference. Yuta Tabuse, a star guard for the Link Tochigi Brex, said he had a good first impression of the new name and logo.

“When I saw the logo, I thought it was a cool design and it will give a dream to a lot of children that want to be basketball players in the future,” said Tabuse, who had a brief stint with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns in 2004

Scoring machine Takuya Kawamura, who joined the NBL’s Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Dolphins this offseason, said: “The two leagues have been united as one and we will really be able to determine the country’s best. And given the circumstances, it’s us, the players, who will promote the game. So I’ll do as much as I can.”

Famous business entrepreneur Takafumi Horie, who was also a guest speaker at Tuesday’s event, insisted basketball in Japan has tons of potential to become bigger, especially if it capitalizes on the power of the growing IT companies and their technologies.

“Those who go to the stadiums and arenas, they don’t even know the names of players, and the IT technologies can be an aid for them,” said Horie, who has recently served as an adviser for the J. League as well. “Likewise, you’ve got to create entertainment space to make people really have fun from the bottom of their hearts.

“A few developing IT companies have owned professional baseball teams and J. League teams, and hopefully, basketball will draw their attention, too. In fact, I can see that happen because our society will be automated more and people will have more spare time. And I think that the time could be spent on sports.”