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Adam Silver: “We are not looking at franchises in Europe”

Britain Magic Raptors Basketball

Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver speaks to the media ahead of a regular season basketball game between Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors at the O2 arena in London, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

AP

Thank you, Commissioner Silver.

For years , every time the NBA played a regular season or exhibition game overseas — or during press conferences during All-Star weekend or the NBA Finals — an international journalist would ask about NBA teams based in Europe. First David Stern, then Adam Silver, would give an answer about how they hope to do it in a decade, it was just figuring out the logistics and arenas.

That was always fantasy sold to keep the European market with hope. The reality was much more stark.

In London Thursday — where the Raptors and Magic played an overtime thriller — Silver admitted a European team in the NBA is just not likely.
“We are not actively taking steps to bring a franchise to Europe or expand to Europe. It’s something we’ve looked at over the years. It just doesn’t feel like the time is ripe right now, especially given what is going on, in the prior question, with the Euroleague and FIBA (those two entities are at war over dates of qualification for FIBA events and more). We think the best place for the NBA right now is to showcase an NBA game here in London, to play our preseason games here, and to work on a grassroots level to develop the game. But at the current time, we are not looking at franchises in Europe.”

The logistics of NBA teams in Europe are daunting. Even if you recruited and turned existing powerhouse clubs (Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, etc.) to form a new NBA division of five teams, the travel for stateside teams going to Europe to play those teams, and those teams coming to the USA for extended road trips, would be hard on a fair competitive balance. There’s just no good way to make it work without inventing a transporter ala Star Trek.

Much like Barclays Premiere League teams build fan bases in the USA with preseason tours and fantastic broadcast/streaming for regular season games; the NBA can do the same thing in reverse. Maybe throw in a couple of games in London and other major European cities. But a regular season team has never been realistic.