View Full Version : NBA teams in Europe???
06-10-2003, 02:03 PM
NBA Plans European Expansion
U.S. National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern says the league will likely have teams based in European cities by 2010.
Mr. Stern told reporters Friday in San Antonio, Texas, that large capacity venues in major European cities would lead to expansion of the NBA to some of those locations.
He also said pre-season games are planned in October in France, Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico, while two regular season openers will be held in Japan later this year.
The NBA Commissioner says exhibition games involving Chinese star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets are planned for Beijing and Shanghai next year.
Some information for this report provided by AFP.
Is this even Logisitically possible to have NBA teams based in Europe? Just the Idea of Flying to Spain for a game and then having to come home and play seems ridiculous. Does Stern just say the first thing that pops into his head?
06-10-2003, 02:05 PM
I have a feeling its goign to be a whole nother league like NFL Europe.
06-10-2003, 02:08 PM
I just hope it would be a bust if they do this. I do not want to see some of the players like Dirk go to these organisations since they are in Europe.
Lonely PSU Mavs Fan
06-10-2003, 03:48 PM
I was assuming, like Ummm, that it would be like a minor league, a la NFL Europe. Stern has to be smoking something if he thinks that a team could play in the states and then go to europe for their next game.
06-10-2003, 03:50 PM
I think he's smoking something if he thinks he can have a minor league like NFL Europe
06-10-2003, 04:34 PM
No. I have heard Stern talk about this a number of times. He means an NBA team in Europe. And yes, he's nuts. For Stern, it is about ego and history. Stern compares himself to only to Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue . Rozelle brought sports into prime time; Tagliabue operates the most well-run, organized, popular and profitable league in the history of sports. Stern wants to be the first to do something. That is the only reason we have an NBA team in Canada. Stern wants an international league.
Now, lets think about this for a second. First, no americans want to play in Canada; does anyone think they'll want to play in London; Paris or Berlin? Second, the european leagues don't want them there-even one team in Europe marginalizes the european leagues.
And I saved the best for last-logistics. Holy crap. How is this ever going to work? Obvious travel issues. There was once a time that conferences and divisions were aligned to aleviate travel time expenses. Times have changed with introduction of team planes. A team can play in LA, fly overnight and play in Atlanta the next day. But that is nothing compared to a transatlantic flight. Second, problem is simply time differential. I suppose it will be fun to turn on TNT and watch the second-half of the Paris Frogs playing the Clippers before I go to work. Or maybe not. And also, you are telling the Atlanta Hawks that they have to go to Europe twice as often as the Nuggets because a Euro team will be in the Eastern Conference-that or every team does a road back-to-back.
06-10-2003, 04:37 PM
NBA eyeing Europe once more
Look out! The NBA is coming over to your house to play.
Speaking in Philadelphia at the 2002 All-Star Weekend, commissioner David Stern predicted that by the end of this decade, the league will have placed franchises in Europe, potentially shuttled to and fro across the pond while greeting the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers on a weekly basis in a town near you.
A mere fantasy or genuine ambition?
Stern, a trained lawyer who is rarely prone to making public pronouncements without first exercising due diligence, envisages a four year timetable to come up with the right plan. And while the exact format of the realignment is open for discussion, it is clear that the NBA fully intends to transform itself into a genuine international operation.
"Whether it is by affiliation with existing league or it is a new league or it is actually the placing of NBA teams outside the United States, I think all of those have become very distinct possibilities for us," declared Stern.
"We have got to spend a fair amount of time meeting with our owners, getting a sense of the investments that they would like to make, and getting our own sense of the basketball world out there. We think that the internationalisation of our sport is now at a stage where
those are not fanciful discussions or thoughts."
The concept, of course, is not without precedent. Europe has long provided the Holy Grail for growth for America's sporting enterprises.
The National Hockey League, which draws most of its top stars from this side of the Atlantic, has taken an active interest in the sport's development.
While the National Football League's World League concept broke new ground when its inaugural contest kicked off in London in 1991; now re-branded NFL Europe, it recently signed a co-operation deal with FC Barcelona which will see the Dragons become an adoptive member
of the Nou Camp's sporting family.
The NFL acknowledges that in the longer-term, it too harbours ambitions to pit teams from over here in meaningful opposition against rivals from over there.
"With the speed of travel and instant communication, someday you would hope to see that the league would expand," John Beake, NFL Europe's managing director reveals.
"You have North America, Europe and Asia and who knows what that is going to bring? I would imagine that the long term vision would be to have NFL teams in Europe."
Thus far, the NBA's international ventures have proven troublesome. The biennial McDonald's Championships, which pitted the reigning American champions against Europe's top sides, has been indefinitely mothballed while last autumn's NBA Europe Games, featuring Minnesota and Toronto, were abruptly cancelled in the wake of September 11.
Closer to base, the Vancouver Grizzlies, one of the NBA's two Canadian entrants, upped
sticks and moved south to Memphis last year in defiance of Stern's universal agenda.
"Realistically, the places where we could place NBA teams would be Mexico and Europe, from a travel perspective," Stern offers. Stepping over the USA's southern border, where basketball enjoys a healthy following, would be relatively simple, the main obstacle finding a backer rich enough to cough up the likely franchise fee of around £100 million.
Beating a path into the Old Continent would not be as straightforward.
When Stern first raised the idea during a visit to Milan in 1999, Europe's leading teams bristled and threw back a frosty glare of disdain. Many are backed by monied football clubs and have invested
hefty sums into the two year old Euroleague, an independent super league which has mirrored many of the NBA's ideas.
And objections have been raised from those who matter most - the players - with Gary Payton among a number to voice immediate concerns about the problems associated with such long journeys.
The suggestions of one-way cultural imperialism may be quelled by the recent influx of European players into America's showcase league. As consolation, Stern has also mooted a proposal to create an annual Ryder Cup-style 'America versus the Rest of the World' challenge.
Yet how would Real Madrid or Panathinaikos react if the NBA were to unilaterally conjure the Madrid Mateadors or Athens Air Pollutors out of nowhere? In a departure from prior expansion, the NBA would surely need to incorporate the existing incumbents into the fold rather than merely
auctioning to the highest bidder.
The availability of large arenas will remain paramount in determining the way forward, criteria which would keep London and Manchester in the frame. The hypothesis though is no longer unrealistic.
Not when it has Stern backing.
06-10-2003, 04:38 PM
International Basketball Association?
Expanding to Europe could be in the cards for the NBA
Posted: Monday February 11, 2002 1:00 PM
As Alicia Keys and Angie Stone finished up their patriotic medley before the tip-off of Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, cameras cut to Michael Jordan, who was pawing the ground like a thoroughbred in its paddock. In fact, the cutaway shot could have been of NBA commissioner David Stern, who's itching to make a move of his own.
During his annual state-of-the-game press conference on Saturday, the commish let slip that the NBA expects to expand beyond North America -- and relatively soon, probably at the end of the league's new six-year TV deal. Much spadework needs to be done -- assessing market conditions, geopolitical stability and exchange rates -- but the will is there. And more people have been flattened by underestimating Stern's will than by getting between Shaq's shoulder and the basket.
In divulging his intentions, Stern gave a nod to my Sports Illustrated colleague Jack McCallum. About a dozen years ago Jack asked Stern to limn what NBA expansion to Europe might look like. "It isn't going to happen," Stern replied, but he played along anyway. "If it were to happen, I'll tell you how it might take shape."
Now Stern describes a basketball world along the lines Jack wrote about -- that is, with a kind of NBA Transatlantic Division, featuring four or five franchises in Western Europe. Teams based in the U.S. would make a continental swing to play the Rome Built-In-A-Days, the Athens Olympics and the Plasters of Paris, just as teams make an East Coast or West Coast trip today. On Saturday, the commish confirmed that this model is still a possibility. The problem: The NBA would be blowing off the fans and officials of clubs like Real Madrid and Panathinaikos Athens, which provide the texture and tradition of European basketball.
To solve that problem, there's always Option #2: The NBA could simply fold existing European clubs into a new division or affiliate with an outfit like the Euroleague. But would a European owner be willing to pay current NBA owners the huge expansion fees they've come to expect? Most of the elite clubs in Europe have been around since long before the Ft. Wayne Pistons were a gleam in Fred Zollner's eye. They don't need the NBA to survive.
Finally, the NBA may choose to start an overseas league from scratch. But next to the real thing, a new league couldn't help but have a second-rate aroma. Perhaps you could get away with putting the NBA brand on a new league in Asia or Eastern Europe, but in Western Europe players would balk at a developmental league's pay scale, and fans would know that the real product still hadn't crossed the pond.
Of these three models, which seems most suited to Stern's style? Surely the first -- in which the NBA simply adds franchises in Europe and perhaps Mexico City. That would give the league office maximum control, and maximum control has been characteristic of every turn of Stern's career. (Just look at the WNBA, which sent the ABL back into the kitchen. Or the new National Basketball Development League (NBDL), which was up and running almost as soon as the CBA faltered, and is already establishing itself with a reality show on ESPN and a hip nickname -- "The Down Low," after the "DL" in NBDL.) The most respectful and immediately workable tack, however, would be to fold current European clubs into the NBA.
"It's not anything I ever thought I'd be saying in a public forum," Stern confessed on Saturday, as he sketched out his global vision. But then who could have expected players with no Stateside experience -- Spain's Pau Gasol and France's Tony Parker; Germany's Dirk Nowitzki and Yugoslavia's Peja Stojakovic -- to swan into the NBA and assume starring roles at All-Star Weekend?
Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff is the author of Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure (Warner Books), available online and in stores everywhere. You can contact him at biggamesmallworld.com.
06-10-2003, 04:39 PM
Dan Patrick : Give me the time frame of when we could have an NBA franchise in Europe.
David Stern: That is going to depend upon two things. First, a building that can house a franchise. We don't really have one yet. There are plans that are five years away for NBA-style buildings in Berlin and London. Second, we need to know for sure that people will support the NBA. ... I'm not here to say that it's ready to play a 41-game schedule in a particular country at the kinds of prices and with the kind of interest that we depend upon here. I think it's possible, and I think in five or six years it might happen. But we need to work on those two areas.
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