NBA EUROPE DIVISION???

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:38 pm
Have game, will travel
NBA mulling idea of five-team expansion in Europe


London Mayor Ken Livingstone's city would be a leading candidate to land an NBA team if commissioner David Stern is able to execute the league's European expansion idea.



The NBA's on-and-off approach to expansion into Europe is back on again. Commissioner David Stern is considering new plans to create five full-fledged NBA franchises in Europe over the next decade, a league source told SI.com.

The initiative promises to be the big news of All-Star weekend in New Orleans, where international basketball officials are arriving this week for their annual meetings with the NBA. Stern is expected to reveal the league's new stance at a news conference Saturday, according to a league source.

The current idea would be to create five new teams in major markets to form a "European'' division within the NBA. The teams would play the full 82-game schedule and compete for the NBA championship. But the proposal is new and many factors will influence the eventual outcome, the league source said.

This will not be the first time Stern has proposed expansion overseas. In 2003, he said the league would investigate planting teams in Europe within a decade, but then shelved the proposal as the NBA focused on developing profitable relationships with China and other emerging markets.

Those relationships have helped Stern formulate a new two-pronged approach to growing the business of the NBA and world basketball in general.

Stern's preference has been to develop international partnerships with local federations and business interests, as in the formal announcement last month of NBA China. ESPN and four Chinese investors have already pledged $253 million to the nascent project.

According to the league source, Stern has realized that it's much easier to do business in emerging basketball markets than in Western Europe, where government regulation as well as the basketball organizing bodies -- the complex network of old-world federations that run the sport in each country and throughout Europe -- have choked off attempts to turn European basketball into a profitable enterprise since the opening of the Berlin Wall almost 20 years ago.

"Say you put five teams there in NBA buildings and see what happens,'' the NBA source said of plans to expand to Europe. "Because then it's out of the hands of the governments; it's an American company with American divisions operating in Europe.''

Pro basketball remains a minor sport throughout Western Europe, with a low-scale popularity not unlike that of soccer in the United States. In an interview with Sports Illustrated two years ago, former NBA player Sarunas Marciulionis, a Lithuanian who founded the Northern European Basketball League, outlined the problems in Europe while calling on Stern to preside over a summit to overhaul basketball on the continent.

"There are no big brands -- none -- connected with high-scale basketball in Europe because it's a mess,'' Marciulionis said while attending the 2006 All-Star Game in Houston. "We need one structure, one clean pyramid. I think David could unite Europe. I think they would listen to him.''

Nothing came of Marciulionis's proposal: The Europeans declined to ask for Stern's leadership, and at that time Stern told SI that he was neither interested in expanding the NBA to Europe, nor was he willing "to intrude'' in the affairs of the European leagues.

But the landscape has changed with the emergence of NBA-styled arenas in Europe. The 02 Arena in London and the soon-to-be-opened 02 Arena in Berlin (both named after a mobile phone sponsor in Europe) are NBA-ready venues outfitted with the necessary suites and amenities. In addition, Rome has broken ground on a new arena, and Real Madrid is expected to begin construction soon on a new building in Spain. Those four cities would be among the leading candidates to receive NBA franchises in the next decade, if Stern pursues his vision. But the expansion is predicated on more arenas being built in Europe in coming years.

Stern has long said that the absence of NBA-sized buildings had been the biggest obstacle to putting franchises in Europe. Now that a marketplace is developing for large arenas capable of providing revenue streams to support NBA franchises, the league can seriously begin to consider expansion overseas.

There is a sense that the clock is ticking down on the league's long-term plan to grow basketball in Western Europe. With NBA-ready buildings sprouting up, the source suggested that Stern feels the need to move before a competing entity seizes the opportunity of moving into those arenas and starting up a new European league from scratch.

Of course, there would be many issues. Would European audiences buy expensive season tickets to 41 home games per year? Would they adapt to the American dynamic of sport as entertainment, equivalent to attending a concert or the cinema? Could the NBA sustain expansion to as many as 35 teams? Would American players be willing to play overseas? And how would teams adapt to the transatlantic road trips?

European basketball officials have been skeptical that the NBA could succeed in the Old World. But others view the success of European soccer's Champions League -- in which huge numbers of fans have watched the best players in the world without necessarily having a rooting interest in the teams -- as an indication that the NBA model could succeed in Europe.

There is little room for the NBA to expand its business domestically. If Stern decides to move overseas, he will do so based on the availability of new venues and the perspective that there are no better options for growing the game in Europe.

"We need to do more market research, of course,'' the league source said. "But in the end there's only one way to find out, and that's by going there and doing it.''




Well, even tho it would make a lot easier to watch my beloved Warriors, I think this is the WORST idea Stern has ever had. I couldn't be more opposed to it. An european division by itself would be an horrendous idea, with all the travel problems, lack of interest by mass media and fans, etc...

But expanding the league by 5 teams?. That's absolutely ridiculous. They should be thinking about reducing 10 teams, not adding 5 more. That's only gonna dilute the talent even more.


Not to talk about other problems, like time difference for viewers in America, different law regulations... and remember when Steve Francis rejected to play in Vancouver?. What's gonna happen when half the first round rejects to play in Madrid/Rome/Paris?


What do you think of this?. Am I crazy and Stern is a visionary or is this as retarded as it looks like?


Discuss...
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:47 pm
I share your thoughts completely!!! Terrible idea.

The only sort of "merging" of NBA basketball and European basketball would be some sort of 7 game World Championship series between the NBA champion and a European champion. I have no working knowledge of basketball over there so not sure how all the leagues/countries function but if they could somehow crown a European Champion then I think that could be interesting.

Instead of seeing a US All-Star team vs a Euro All-Star team, I think it would be interesting to see the NBA Champion team play a Euro Champion team in a 7 game series.

But adding Euro franchises (or any franchises) to the NBA is STUPID!
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:33 pm
I agree, more teams are not needed. Travel would be a nightmare. TMC you pretty much covered all of the negatives...just wanted to let you know that you are not alone :wink:
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:37 pm
i dont see it ever getting to be more than a pipe dream...
nfl players/teams dont want to travelfor 1 game with an 8 - 10 day break between games....
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:47 pm
i think this is the NBA's way of trying to work NBA rules into international ball, which would give the US a clear advantage during the FIBA's and olympics. of course this is just a thought...no real substance behind it.

for the most part though, i agree with the rest of you guys. having a euro division is a bad idea.....a real bad idea.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:18 pm
badabing8888 wrote:The only sort of "merging" of NBA basketball and European basketball would be some sort of 7 game World Championship series between the NBA champion and a European champion. I have no working knowledge of basketball over there so not sure how all the leagues/countries function but if they could somehow crown a European Champion then I think that could be interesting.

Instead of seeing a US All-Star team vs a Euro All-Star team, I think it would be interesting to see the NBA Champion team play a Euro Champion team in a 7 game series.


Well, there's the Euroleague, but nobody pays attention to it til the Final Four. One option could be playing NBA teams vs the winner of the Euroleague during a series... but I doubt it's worth it.

I mean, the NBA tried something like that with the McDonald's Open a few years ago (a tournament between the NBA champion and some of the best european teams)... and the NBA team never really cared about the game. It was like any other preseason game for them. NBA teams care about NBA bball, not anything else.

Also, another big problem is that there's not enough money in european bball to have competitive teams (I think Jasikevicius is the highest paid player, and he's making around $4.5 million... compare that to what Baron makes and you have an idea of what to expect), and that's why the league wants to have their own franchises in Europe. But they shouldn't expect to have season ticket holders of any kind, as there's not enough interest in bball. Those teams can't survive with the income they'd have from local crowds.

Which is a problem, because the american franchises would be "paying" to keep those teams alive (they would have to get a bigger share of the revenues... or have cheap rosters to survive, which makes it even worse).


In short, I can't see a single reason why the league should expand to Europe this way. I really, really hope it never happens. It may be the worst move the league has ever done...

Stern is expected to explain this expansion plan during the All Star game. I'm curious to hear how he tries to justify it.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 4:41 pm
i think it's a bad idea, mainly of the fact that european and usa basketball is so vastly different. and i like it. the difference.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 10:21 pm
martin wrote:i think it's a bad idea, mainly of the fact that european and usa basketball is so vastly different. and i like it. the difference.


well if they have a euro division theyd be playing with NBA rules. its just a division, like our pacific division, under the same company (the NBA)
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:20 am
EMan32 wrote:
martin wrote:i think it's a bad idea, mainly of the fact that european and usa basketball is so vastly different. and i like it. the difference.


well if they have a euro division theyd be playing with NBA rules. its just a division, like our pacific division, under the same company (the NBA)


Yep... just with crazy travel times, crazy TV times as well, lots of players rejecting to play in Europe (and I'm sure there would cases of europeans rejecting to go there), lots of empty seats in the arenas (not during the first games... but it would happen as soon as the novelty wears off)... you get the idea.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:41 am
I like the thought but only if players can't reject playing in the Euro teams. Travel times would be awful but hey, they should bring back the concorde and make it cheaper so nba teams can have a small one to travel faster :wink: . Would definately make basketball more popular and would be interesting to see even greater numbers of European players come into the nba, which invariably would happen.

This idea likely won't happen
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:57 am
migya wrote:I like the thought but only if players can't reject playing in the Euro teams


Then it's not worth it. If players can't reject playing in Europe, all the best american talents will do so and european teams would have virtually no chance to compete with american franchises.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:13 am
TMC wrote:
migya wrote:I like the thought but only if players can't reject playing in the Euro teams


Then it's not worth it. If players can't reject playing in Europe, all the best american talents will do so and european teams would have virtually no chance to compete with american franchises.



If they can't reject it, they'll have to go to the team that picks them. It would be somewhat hard to enforce but the only way expanding to Europe would work
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:39 am
It's an interesting idea at the surface, but the more you think of it the more this has disaster written all over it.

Why not just buy out the Euroball and have an end of year tournament with the top 4 teams from the states and from Europe? Sort of like what soccer does with UEFA and their club teams.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 9:33 am
David Stern is a whore.

Add this to his list of basketball attrocities. David Stern is performing an abortion on the spirit of the sport of basketball and it makes me sick.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:00 pm
32 wrote:David Stern is a whore.

Add this to his list of basketball attrocities. David Stern is performing an abortion on the spirit of the sport of basketball and it makes me sick.


Right on. :wink:
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