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Author Topic: The Michael Jordan remembrance thread
goldstone97
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Five new NBA franchises in Europe within the next decade?
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Soccer Scrimmage
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Unfortunately I don't have enough time right now to sum up all the reasons I think NBA expansion to Europe would be a total disaster, both for basketball and for the NBA. But it would. Just look at the cities they are thinking of expanding to: London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome. London and Berlin are perhaps the worst major cities for basketball in Europe. Madrid has a team. I assume David Stern is aware of that? Rome is the only one I could see working.

Ursus, what do you think of this?


Speaking of NBA stupidity, check out this trade:

The deal -- salvaged from talks on a three-way trade with Portland that developed and fizzled quickly two weeks ago -- has Dallas sending 24-year-old point guard Devin Harris, veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse, the expiring contracts of center DeSagana Diop and swingman Devean George and guard Maurice Ager to New Jersey for Kidd and forward Malik Allen.

This reminds me of another massive Dallas-Nets trade, one made 11 years ago, which a brilliant young columnist for the influential Chicago Maroon newspaper correctly predicted would be a disaster for the Mavs. This seems to be more of the same.

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ursus arctos
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I am also pressed for time, but it is insane.

Rome and Berlin have teams as well. Virtus (Roma) are reasonably successful (but by no means at the top) in what was once Europe's best league, but has now fallen behind Spain, Russia and Greece (and arguably Israel and Turkey). They also have an arena (built for the '60 Olympics) that is too small and too old for the NBA. Alba (Berlin) have a similar position in a German league that is below Italy in terms of quality and play in a country where team handball and biathalon are more popular than basketball. They will have a NBA-quality arena as of next season, though.

London and Paris are dramatically worse in terms of weak basketball traditions, though they do each have a NBA quality arena.

I just can't see this working from any possible angle.

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goldstone97
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Globalisation! The World is Flat! The Time Has Come! Etc.
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Soccer Scrimmage
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Yeah, but there's globalization and then there's stupidity.

Re: ursus' post above, I didn't mean to imply that only Madrid have got a team; all four cities listed as potential NBA destinations have teams, but Madrid has has got a team, know what I mean? The NBA would either have to supplant Real, or co-opt them into the league. My hypothesis that Roma could work is based on the fact that: a.) b'ball seems to be pretty popular in Italy and b.) (as far as I know) Rome's current teams are not ensconced like, say, Real Madrid is, and thus the NBA could more easily establish itself there.

It would be much better, I think, to move gradually, to strike a deal with the European setup as it already exists. Two potential models comes to mind. First, would be some sort of Champions League competition. Not sure how it would work, but it would certainly be interesting.

Or perhaps a better model would be major league baseball: two separate leagues, which retain some of their own rules, etc, but which meet for a grand championship.

Just plopping down new teams in Europe--especially the cities mentioned--seems like a recipe for disaster for everyone.

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goldstone97
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Though my previous post wasn't serious, one has to say, that David Stern -- of all those running American sports -- has easily come across as best understanding the globalisation of sport, especially on a commercial level.
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Bomb A Nero
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Sheffield Sharks came within a point of beating Real Madrid in the Euroleague/Cup/whatever it is, back in the mid 90s. They got hammered in the second leg, but at least it meant they had to send the first team to Sheffield.

Surely they'd just invite Real to play in the NBA, though?

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evilC
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Have the lessons of NFL Europe/The World League been forgotten so quickly?
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jason voorhees
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The real eye-opener for me was when the Trenton Titans of the ECHL (alleged AA minor league of the NHL) had to play a semi-final...against the Alaska Aces of Anchorage. Apparently this 7-game series (which did go to all 7 games) was the same distance from Trenton to Paris (France, not Texas.)

I see nothing wrong with a series between the Euro and American champs, but lawd have mercy Paris to Los Angeles isn't Paris to NYC.

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goldstone97
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I think this would have a much better chance of succeeding than NFL Europe, which was never given much of a priority and was always a second class league, at best.

Let's remember in this celebrity driven age that the chance to see the greatest basketball players in the world would have some appeal in Europe. The sport is much more popular than the NFL and is growing in its commercial appeal fast worldwide.

They will have seen how easily NFL sold-out Wembley recently. Of course, a one-off event is on a different scale, but I'm not surprised they're exploring this and they seem satisfied with the potential venues as NBA-ready.

I don't think this would necessarily work or be good for basketball globally, but I don't think it's completely pie in the sky. Could London really not support an NBA team? The question is more whether the prospective TV revenue is there. NBA teams would lose games in primetime in the States; would there be a European TV company willing to pay a lot for European NBA basketball? Maybe Murdoch would.

JV's point about the scheduling is of course a serious issue.

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Soccer Scrimmage
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Goldstone, obviously you know more about London than I do, but of the many Britons I've met, only one liked basketball. Most of the rest seemed to be viscerally opposed to it. The British Basketball League is by some distance the worst among major European countries. London didn't even have a team a couple years ago. I can't imagine expansion to London working on any level.

JV's point about scheduling leads to a broader point about the European sides: they would be at a massive competitive disadvantage. First, as Jason rightly notes, they would be subjected to epic road trips. Second, although basketball is clearly on the upswing in Europe, the fact remains that it's not all that popular yet. Revenues would be much lower, I would imagine, than for US teams. Third, I think the players, and by extension the union, would have a big problem with international expansion. Already, a couple players have complained/refused to play for Canadian clubs (Steve Francis, Antonio Davis). I don't think players are going to be pleased with potentially having to play so far away from their homes, and in countries with, by American standards, mind-boggling tax rates.

I would love to see basketball become more international. I think my favorite sporting events are the Olympic and FIBA tournaments, and a club series would be awesome. Creating a European division within the NBA seems to be the worst way to go about it, though.

Of course, as you point out goldstone, David Stern is a smart guy, who indeed seems to get globalization. However, he's been NBA commissioner for nearly 25 years. He'll probably retire soon. I am just playing armchair psychologist here, but this feels like something he wants to push through for the sake of his legacy, rather than a well-conceived idea done for rational reasons.

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ursus arctos
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Why would the Spanish federation allow Real Madrid to join the NBA? And why would the Merengues or FC Barcelona Basket do it? They already sell out their (less than NBA-sized) arenas with clubs whose payrolls are a fraction of those of any NBA team. They play a shorter season, with manageable travel and reasonable ticket prices and are part of one of the largest multisport clubs in the world.

And is Murdoch going to pay big money for matches played between 2 and 6 am in Europe?

It doesn't make sense.

As usual, jv is right. Have CSKA Moscow play a best 2 of 3 with San Antonio, watch them get smoked, and then go back to exhibitions in August when Tony and Eva can make the covers of Match and Voici. Sure, the Lakers could sell out any arena in Europe, but the Hornets against the Eiffel Towers on a Tuesday night in February? Je crois que non.

BTW, Madrid and Barcelona each have at least two teams in the top Spanish league if you look at the greater metropolitan areas.

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Reed
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All of this further supports my thesis: basketball is dumb.
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goldstone97
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I'm not sure anecdotal evidence is very helpful, but there are many NBA fans in England, or at least there were when I lived there, especially amongst those of us who grew up in the post-Jordan era. Still a small number, of course.

Obviously, it's not football, but if you market it as an up-market entertainment event, London's not a bad place. I'm not saying Joe Public will buy a courtside seat, but I can see it attracting the cosmopolitan crowd. It'd more be about entertainment than sport, surely. The question is if that model can work in England; obviously, twenty years ago you'd have said no. But then the Premier League happened, and sport isn't sport anymore.

But the bigger point is it hasn't been marketed there yet. The NBA can put serious money in, and you know it'll get huge media coverage, as the NFL game did. Can it be sustained? That's the bigger question.

But the reason to do it this way is actually down to the failure of NFL Europe. You build and use a globally known brand, the NBA, not a pale imitation of it. They know they need to leverage the celebrity they can get out of American superstars -- OK, Kobe Bryant's not very well known in Croydon now, but he could be.

As for the players, if it brings in enough new revenue and leads to a serious rise in salaries (with offsetting salaries for the European franchises, perhaps), they'll tow the line. Think LeBron wouldn't embrace the extra marketing revenue?

Stern was on the BBC not long ago, doing a long interview. Can't say for sure, but he sounded more like a man determined to globalise the sport as the second behind football in the next decade rather than a man about to retire. I think you're right about the legacy, but he'll want to actually get it done himself, and he's not wrong that basketball has the best chance for global success of all American sports, obviously. They have a huge opportunity for expansion not available to the NFL and MLB. Maybe they're chasing fool's gold; I'm certainly not sure it would work, but I wouldn't rule it out.

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goldstone97
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Ursus, why would the games be on between 2 and 6 am in Europe? If they're serious about it, that'd be utter suicide.
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