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Former Qatar Player Pays $28,000 for Lunch With NBA Commissioner

Jacob Burke, who played professional basketball in Qatar for two years, will talk shop with Adam Silver after bidding $28,000 to win a charity auction to have lunch with the National Basketball Association commissioner.

Burke handles marketing and branding for sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup as a general manager at The Look Company in Qatar. He is also a co-founder of the MENA Basketball Showcase, which celebrates youth talent in the Middle East and North Africa, and said he’d like to see if there might be an opportunity for NBA involvement in the initiative.

“The NBA has been in East Asia, they’ve been in India and obviously in Europe, but this is one region that they haven’t really tapped into,” Burke, 26, said yesterday in a telephone interview from Qatar. “I would be interested to talk to him about what his plans are for this region specifically, because there is lots of opportunity.”

A native of Barrie, Ontario, Burke has been living in Qatar for nine years. The Toronto Raptors fan flew back to North America for the first four games of the Raptors’ playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets. Burke said he’s unsure who he’ll take as his guest to the lunch with Silver and other executives at the NBA’s New York office.

Burke said Silver’s handling of the furor over Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments made him more interested in winning the auction, which was conducted on behalf of the Ad Council and ended two days ago. Silver, who took over as NBA commissioner on Feb. 1, is seeking to force a sale of the Clippers after banning Sterling for life.

“It’s always great to get face time with a person who is so influential,” said Burke. “Being a basketball player and working in sports, which I do around the world, it’s just a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

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