Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
With exhibition games all over the globe, what’s the next smart step for the league? More overseas regular-season games? Expansion? A team in Europe?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’ll vote for “more overseas regular-season games” and then hope like heck that NBA.com deems them must-cover with its lineup of intrepid scribes. But as far as anchoring a franchise in Europe, I don’t buy the logistics. Expansion to Seattle and one other North American city for an even 32 teams is something we see, I think, sometime in the Adam Silver administration. For now, though, I’d settle for something approximately a 1-to-1 affiliation of the NBA D-League/NBA system.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Expansion? Really? OK, let’s start with Charlotte. But seriously, I don’t think any of these choices are necessary or positive. It’s not fair to make a few teams deal with the travel headache of playing regular season games overseas that could have an impact on close playoff races and seeding. You can’t just have one or two teams in Europe. You need an entire division that wouldn’t have to constantly travel back and forth across the Atlantic. Just tend to business, work on core problems — stopping flopping, don’t strangle game with too much video replay, cut first round of the playoffs back down to best-of-five.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: First, whoever decided to put expansion on here as an option, please check yourself. There’s a couple too many teams as is. And this business about actually having a team in Europe? Even Commissoner David Stern has come to accept that this is a distant, distant endeavor, if ever. More regular-season games overseas? Not in favor. Seems taxing and unnecessary during an already rugged 82-game slate. The league is doing an exceptional job building bridges with the offseason program Basketball Without Borders and these global preseason games. I would continue to add countries to the list like the league did this year with the Philippines. Maybe add two to four more teams into the international preseason schedule. Because as much as the fans in these countries appear to enjoy the NBA visits, it’s equally educational for the players, many of whom might never experience the cultures of Istanbul or Manila or Taiwan if not for these games. So that’s a really good thing.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The next smart step is to not take a step. Regular-season games, sure, just like the league does now. And definitely preseason trips, as much as the basketball side of franchises would rather stay close to home to avoid a long plane ride and keep a normal practice routine. But not expansion. Maybe a separate NBA-run league overseas, but not one with the established teams from North America shuttling back and forth over oceans. There are still too many logistical challenges, there is no point in adding one organization and the talent pool isn’t deep enough to add a group.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I like what they’re doing now, expanding the preseason reach. With how much they love the NBA, it’s awesome that the Philippines is getting a preseason game between two of the best teams in the league. India is the next frontier, so maybe there’s more summer activities – clinics and court building – there to develop a basketball infrastructure. An All-Star game in Paris or London would be awesome, as long as there were a couple of extra days to recover afterward.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Having witnessed a regular season game overseas (Raptors-Nets in London two years ago) and the excitement it generated, more of those events can only help bolster the league’s already thriving profile abroad. I was stunned to see how many people traveled to that game in London from all over Europe and beyond to see that game, that didn’t include any of the league’s marquee superstars other than Deron Williams. It’s easy to take what we see on a nightly basis for granted when you know there are multiple cities around this country where you can pay a decent amount for a quality ticket and sit in a luxurious arena and watch the best players in the game perform. All that said, I’m not necessarily a fan of expansion right now. I think the league is right where it needs to be with 30 teams. An overseas division in the distant future is certainly a possibility and will probably make sense with the popularity of the game worldwide. But again, that’s off in the distance right now.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Having traveled extensively in Europe and witnessed firsthand the passion for basketball that exists there, I would love to see the league have some sort of permanent foothold over in Europe. The main problem would be one of practicality. David Stern always points out the flight time from New York to London is roughly equal to the time from New York to Los Angeles, but when East Coast teams travel West, they rarely play one game and then immediately return home. So until the NBA is willing or able to put multiple teams in Europe at once, to make the travel more worthwhile, I don’t see it happening.
Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: W-e w-a-n-t m-o-r-e! W-e w-a-n-t m-o-r-e! A team from Europe playing in the NBA would be great. But that’s still 2-3 steps ahead. To get things going first the league has to plan more regular-season games on European soil, and not only exhibition games. But, who can wait? Let’s add a 31st team from this side of the Atlantic, which will play at different cities every game, so that more people can watch, up-close, players like LeBron, like Durant, like Kobe … Did I mention that we want more NBA?
Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: Basketball is a global game now, and even if the NBA is a North American league it should go global. An entire division in Europe (one team alone won’t work, I totally agree with Commissioner Stern on that) must be a long-term goal but can’t be the next step. Try something less drastic, like having more regular-season games overseas. The NFL in 2014 will play in England three regular-season games out of possible 256. The NBA in 2013-14 will play abroad only two games out of 1,230, and basketball is way more popular globally than football. This league has a bright future within the US/Canada borders but could become a global legend expanding overseas.
Karan Madhok, NBA India: Instead of adding to the overworked league itself by expansion or a team in Europe, I think the smart step is to make more moves that can help fans in the biggest potential markets get closer to the action. Take a page from European Futbol’s worldwide expansion. Games broadcast at comfortable viewing times in countries in Europe, China, and India. More localized events, advertising, and NBA-themed venues. More opportunities for international fans to catch a first glimpse of their favourite players or teams, and to buy NBA gear and accessories. Instead of taking the NBA out of its established core, I think it would be better to bring fans globally closer to the NBA.