NBA: Struggles Involved in European Expansion

The idea of expanding the NBA to Europe has gained momentum in the past year and has been clearly noted that it is on the agenda of incoming commissioner Adam Silver. Obviously, taking this idea into action and completing it will be much easier said than done.

Worldwide expansion is one way to unify all basketball fans around the world. There’s no doubt about that. However, there are so many hoops to jump through before progress can be made. Scheduling, team transactions and the separation from FIBA are among issues that need to be resolved when this floats closer to the top of the agenda.

How long will it be until we see these stars in Europe more often, if ever? Mandatory credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports.

As far as scheduling, this would again raise the idea of decreasing the amount of games in a regular season. The teams would need more time on trips over to Europe and vice versa for foreign teams. If a team from Europe also makes it to the playoffs, there would have to be adjustment for the series schedule and the league would need to continually accommodate it if any advance.

The same would apply to the D-League. Teams created in this expansion to affiliate with its respective European team would need more time for games and would also bring about the need for extended time in the D-League showcase.

It would also be much more difficult for European teams to sign free agents, simply due to the fact that many players don’t want to be far away from home in the states. There would be more open-mindedness from foreign-born players to go to an overseas NBA team, which would create more of a division of mostly European players. It would eventually lead to the pitch of a NBA-FIBA merger, since Europeans would be the most receptive to joining a European NBA team. There would definitely be an outrage for players who are traded to European teams, which would cause team chemistry disruptions, as well as trade demands.

Wouldn’t the placement of the NBA in Europe also take away from the popularity of FIBA? Making this idea come to life would involve a lot of negotiating with FIBA on how to bring in the NBA presence without reducing the importance of FIBA. It would become a war among basketball fans in Europe, who differ on which league to follow: the worldwide recognized league or the home league? The league might as well change its name as well (IBA?).

European fans would get their wish of seeing NBA stars more often, but would have to get used to the little things in between that differ between the leagues. There’s more superstar power, further three-point lines, and longer quarters to start with.

ESPN’s Marc Stein recently tweeted a possible resolution to this idea: holding All-Star weekend in a European location.





The glamour of foreign travel would be present and it would allow for a longer break at that point in the season. Though the downside is that the average American residents who aren’t celebrities wouldn’t be able to afford attending the event, the sales would have to increase once giving Europeans the opportunity to see the best of the best.

Money, loyalty, homeland and popularity are among the largest of issues and need to be handled with the utmost care for European expansion. The intentions are good for the league, but is it worth all this mess?

Tags: European Expansion FIBA NBA

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