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David Stern says “for sure” there will be NBA teams in Europe in 20 years

Jan 3, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT

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There is no bigger supporter of globalizing the NBA brand than David Stern. When he steps aside as commissioner in 2014 and hands everything over to Adam Silver, Stern is expected to stay on as a consultant with the league in some role specifically to grow the game around the globe.

With all that, it should come as no surprise that when David Stern was on ESPN radio with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Rusillo and was asked if there would be an NBA team in Europe in the next 20 years he was glowing.

“I think so. 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.”

This has been Stern’s passion, we will see if Silver has the same passion for it. Of course, what really will determine this is if the NBA owners can make more money by having them.

As Stern himself has said before, the only way this works logistically is to have a European division of the NBA, likely made up of existing franchises (big names such as FC Barcelona, CSKA Moscow and the like). You would need five teams, ones which would play each other and come over to the states, plus get visits from some NBA teams. And even then, the logistics are tricky. To say the least.

I think the second part of Stern’s answer becomes the more likely outcome — you have NBA affiliated leagues around the globe. Maybe the Spanish ABC league (the second best league on the planet) or other top leagues in Europe reach an affiliation deal. An NBA league in China seems a logical fit in a few years. But they would remain their own leagues with their own schedules and the like.

Even then… oh, we all know it comes down to if it makes the owners money. If that can be figured out they will find a way to make the logistics of anything work.

  1. fortwaynekomets - Jan 3, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    I just wish the Pistons would’ve stayed in Fort Wayne! Detroit is too far of a drive. and the Pacers aren’t what they were 20 years ago!

  2. tomtravis76 - Jan 3, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    These new NBA leagues should be separate of the current NBA. Then hopefully there will be a “World Championship” taking the winners of each league( North America, Europe, China, and South America/Australia/Africa). Having a” World NBA title” would make the owners happy by making the Olympics irrelevant for Pros( and it could finally go back to college players representing USA).

    • saint1997 - Jan 3, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      Then they could finally call it a world championship. I think it would be better if they had other teams in the playoffs

      • hojo20 - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:09 PM

        Yeah I’m sure the Bucks will enjoy that home @ home with the Ukraine.

  3. mtheparrothead - Jan 3, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    So ten you’d have the u.s. vs a European team in the nba finals. Congratulations stern, you just created the Olympics.

    • valiantdraws - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      Actually, genius, that’s not the case. Clubs are not bound to have teams composed of players from their respective countries. It’s purely professional basketball, regardless of nation. This is very similar to what soccer does with Champions League in Europe. It’s gotten to the point where Champions League competition is even more important that league titles.

      The top couple of teams from every top flight league in Europe compete in an open-cup style competition through the year that runs simultaneously with the league seasons. It’s incredibly exciting, high stakes, and would bring basketball to new heights if done right.

      Honestly, I don’t think the NBA should expand beyond North America. But, I’d be totally down for a Champions League style competition. Given the crowded schedules of basketball leagues, it would make the most sense to do this during the off season.

  4. tampajoey - Jan 3, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Stern and the owners better reel in their greed. They’re sure taking us North American fans for granted.

  5. dalucks - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Stern is still ruining the NBA as he heads out of the door. The NBA does not need anymore bottomfeeders. Any expansions teams will be in the mold of the Raptors and Bobcats no matter if they are in America or Europe.

    • badintent - Jan 3, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      Stern, shut up and just go away. The 3 hour Concorde ride could have made this a reality but it’s dead and so is this idea.

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 3, 2013 at 11:05 PM

        3 hours from the East Coast, yeah. But what about West Coast teams? What about the 10 hour time difference? Even with Concorde it would have been impractical.

      • badintent - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:48 PM

        Sorry,my bad. I stilll think of the NBA in fact as the orginal 10 Teamsmoslty East Coast.Old School

  6. eugenesaxe - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    An 8-team “NBA Europe”, separate from the American version? Absolutely.
    Integrating a Euro division within the NBA proper? Beyond ridiculous.

    • brianjoates - Jan 3, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      Much like baseball used to be before interleague play. AL never played NL teams until the “World Series”. A Euro NBA, Asian NBA League would be good for the game and provide players with more jobs. All of the leagues would be working under the same rules. You would never see the Heat play Barcelona unless it was in an NBA World Finals.Each league champ would get entered into an NBA World Championship Finals( 2-3-2 formats). Teams in all the leagues could trade amongst each other, it would grow the game tremendously. If your favorite player got traded to a European team and the NBA channel was now broacasting their games, you would watch it and learn more about those teams in Europe.

      The NBA can’t add any more expansion franchises in small/medium markets, but a new league would be great in major global markets.

  7. ruffridin - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Seattle and Vancouver first

    • valiantdraws - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      Damn right! Let’s get our own backyard situated first.

  8. euromac55 - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    What would an nba affiliate league look like? The bbl in Germany having the nba name on it? I hope the nba is ready to help finance some of the Spanish teams outside of Barcelona and Madrid.

  9. valiantdraws - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Speaking of which, I still think Vegas needs an NBA team.

    • 00maltliquor - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      I have been dreaming of that for-EVER! It will never happen, sadly.

  10. Gordon - Jan 3, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Euro trash bball league.

  11. 00maltliquor - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    Euro-teams? Yeah Dave, like players are clamoring to go further away from the states. Who was the biggest name American-born free agent to have ever signed to the then Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors!? Hedo Turkoglu? Oh yeah, that’s right, he’s Turkish. And not a big name.

    Keep it in the STATES.

  12. shockexchange - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    According to SHOCK EXCHANGE How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted the Great Recession and the Pain Ahead, further expansion is the last thing the NBA should consider. Stern is aware of this and is simply blowing smoke.

  13. BigBeachBall - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Stern’s brain under a microscope would look like little interconnecting dollar bills

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