Skip to Content
Alumni profile

Sloan MBA manages NBA Latin America

Arnon de Mello, MBA ’07
Courtesy of Arnon de Mello, MBA ’07

Arnon de Mello, MBA ’07, always expected to use his business and finance skills at a startup in his home city of Rio de Janeiro, but he never expected the firm to be backed by one of the largest and most recognizable sports brands in the world: the National Basketball Association.

“We are this huge company in the States, with more than a thousand employees, but here it’s a lean operation with a small team that does a lot of things at the same time,” de Mello says. “We handle everything that’s business related to the NBA in Latin America, so that means, among other things, all media, licensing, and sponsorship deals.”

As vice president and managing director of NBA Latin America, de Mello might do something different every day. On a recent day, he negotiated a cable TV deal for the Caribbean, chose a new local beer partner, and discussed where to open the next NBA store in Mexico.

“The main goal is to increase our fan base in the region,” he explains. That can also involve organizing youth leagues or holding events. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where players from different NBA teams joined forces on Team USA, he and his team launched NBA House, which was ultimately voted best hospitality house at the games. He saw it as an exciting opportunity for the NBA and his home city to shine.

De Mello wasn’t always an NBA fan—he began tuning in as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. Through his years earning a dual master’s degree at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School and then working at Lehman Brothers, his interest grew.

When he returned to Brazil, however, he found there was only one NBA game a week airing on TV. Today, thanks to negotiations by de Mello and staff, NBA fans in Latin America can catch 15 games a week on TV and stream games live via the NBA League Pass app. “This new media is really where we’re seeing a lot of growth,” he says.

In the long term, de Mello, who lives in Rio de Janeiro with his two children, Manuel and Alice, wants to continue to expand NBA opportunities throughout Latin America.

“Given the large Latino population in the United States and the heavy influence that Mexico has on the south and California and other places, it would be very cool to eventually have an NBA team in Mexico City—the largest city in North America,” he says.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.