With the world caught in the grip of a financial crisis, NBA team owners and league officials will be watching the balance sheet as closely as the standings when the season starts on Tuesday with the Boston Celtics opening the defense of their crown against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A hugely entertaining Beijing Olympic tournament dominated by NBA talent and an equally successful package of pre-season games staged before sell-out crowds in Europe and Asia helped increase the league's popularity.
It is the home fans, however, that teams will be counting on to see them through tough times.
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