Posted January 03, 2013

David Stern: NBA will ‘for sure’ add European teams

NBA
NBA Commissioner David Stern has long desired adding a division of teams in European cities. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA Commissioner David Stern has long desired adding a division of teams in European cities. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The David Stern farewell tour hasn’t unofficially started, but between now and his scheduled Feb. 1, 2014 exit, the NBA commissioner will likely be asked to weigh in on his past accomplishments, the current status of the league and what he envisions for its future.

Among the predictions Stern offered on ESPN Radio’s SVP and Rusillo Thursday is the NBA’s expansion to Europe — an overseas move he doesn’t see happening during his tenure, but a move that he’s sure will occur in the next 20 years.

“I think so,” Stern said when asked if he sees a team in Europe at some point. “I think multiple NBA international teams. Twenty years from now? For sure. In Europe. No place else. In other places I think you’ll see the NBA name on leagues and other places with marketing and basketball support, but not part of the NBA as we now know it.”

Stern’s desire for an NBA foothold in Europe is nothing new. London has long been considered the favorite to land an expansion team, though the commissioner has dreamed of a division full of teams in European cities such as Barcelona, Berlin, Madrid, Paris and Rome. Stern’s original plans for a European invasion were sunk by unstable European financial markets and the lack of NBA-ready arenas capable of reaping a profit over a full regular-season and beyond.

“I don’t think having a single team in Europe is practical,” Stern told the Boston Globe in October. “I never have.

“What I’ve said is if we’re going to have an NBA presence here in terms of the league, it should be five teams. It’s safe to say that there aren’t enough buildings, there aren’t adequate TV arrangements, we don’t have owners, and I’m not sure we could charge the prices that would be necessary. I don’t think our fans are that avid yet.

The league that’s second only to soccer when it comes to a world-wide fan base appears to be the most likely U.S. professional league to permanently bridge the Atlantic Ocean in the future. Television rights providing NBA action to more than 90 international outlets, Internet and social media — more than 278 millions likes and followers — have helped expand the league’s international presence.

Whether or not Stern’s heir apparent Mike Silver will still be commissioner when European cities modernize their arenas remains to be seen. In the meantime, NBA exhibitions and regular-season tours of Europe have been financially successful and slowly but surely make an overseas team and division more palatable for fans and the players union. Travel demands to China are likely behind Stern’s belief that the NBA won’t expand beyond Europe. The league is taking advantage of China’s growing basketball fan base with a licensed NBA China league.

More NBA franchises will open slots for more NBA players who might be willing to accept a seven-and-a-half hour flight from New York to London that’s just an hour and a half longer than flying from Los Angeles to New York.


13 comments
mroutt66
mroutt66

Why is Europe a better place for NBA expansion than China? China is not dominated by soccer as much as Europe is which means that China will be easier to win over to the sport and the NBA. China will surpass both Europe and America's economy within 15 years. It has more people (and potential future fans) than both Europe and America combined. Europe has a general distaste for most American culture while China is in love with most American culture. China's economic growth prospects far outweigh Europe's. As far as traveling, the west coast teams like the Lakers will have it just as hard traveling to Europe as east coast teams will have traveling to China.

 

TwitSpif
TwitSpif

Stern-sy want the NBA in Europe before Europe's own leagues grow strong enough to keep European stars at home. He doesn't want a soccer style situation where players can shop between leagues for the best deals. Think about it, basketball is played everywhere soccer is played, and has the advantage that in the big US and China markets, basketball is more popular. Imagine if Lebron James could play Miami and Barcelona off each other the way Ranaldo plays Man United and Milan agains each other. Stern wants to nip that in the bud. 

Steve Moore
Steve Moore

Paris Frogs

London Limeys

Berlin BMW's

Rome Gladiators

DanWhite
DanWhite

Put some teams in Africa, yo.

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

Yeah, good luck convincing players to live abroad. 

dontemailwoody
dontemailwoody

What a potential nightmare.  Imagine the West Coast teams having to travel to Europe to play 5 games in 8 nights or something.  That's 12-16 more hours in the plane than their East Coast peers must endure.

 

The NBA would have to either increase the length of the season to accomodate this or reduce the amount of games played against the other American teams.  Either choice sounds like a bad one

ShockExchange
ShockExchange

No he won't. David Stern had plans to expand to Europe until he read SHOCK EXCHANGE How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted the Great Recession and the Pain Ahead, which advised against further expansion. SHOCK EXCHANGE is available electronically and at St. Mark's Bookshop, Word Bookstore, Greenlight Bookstore and Hampden-Sydney College bookstore.

MarkJohnson3
MarkJohnson3

London is two hours closer to LA than Beijing. 12 hours as the shortest flight time is not feasible, whereas 5-6 hours from NY to London is totally doable. I've flown to China. It is brutal. Unless the NBA builds itself a concord jet, it's not happening

TwitSpif
TwitSpif

China is run by a corrupt communist government. The NBA is more comfortable working with corrupt capitalist governments. There's also the glamor factor. Stern and his fellow owners want to shop and dine on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, not on the Xidan Commercial Street.

mroutt66
mroutt66

 @DanWhite

 Africa! we gotta give the rest of the races a chance to compete first!

mroutt66
mroutt66

 @dontemailwoody

 The NBA will need to get rid of the division and conference team groupings and have each team play each other twice only. 

TwitSpif
TwitSpif

And TV times out better from Europe too. An evening game in London or Madrid translates into an afternoon start in the USA.