Global expansion seems to be a key focus for American professional leagues – for obvious economic reasons. The NFL played three games in London last year and will do the same next season. While speaking to the media during the NBA’s own exhibition across the pond (the Bucks and Knicks played a regular season game there Thursday night), Commissioner Adam Silver says he believes it’s the league’s “destiny” to have four European franchises.
“My sense is that the NFL is a little bit ahead of us in terms of their timeline for having a franchise based in London. There are some aspects of their schedule that make it easier – they play once a week, they have fewer games,” said Adam Silver, who took over from David Stern as the commissioner last year.
“It will be easier logistically for them to pull it off. It would be difficult for us to have one team in Europe. We’d have to put both feet down. That would mean having four franchises in Europe.”
“We’re not there yet. I know that as much growth as we’ve seen, we have a long way to go before we can sustain four franchises in Europe,” said Silver, who has worked at the NBA since 1992. “On the other hand, I believe it’s our manifest destiny to expand.”
“We are reaching new audiences. Each time we come, we learn from prior experiences and mistakes we’ve made. When we play here, I think there is an audience that might not normally watch simply because the match is here,” said Silver. “Then there’s a viral component, word of mouth. The NBA is very much a creature of social media. That’s a large part of our growth.”
Logistically speaking, with an 82-game rigorous schedule, I’m not sure how realistic this is. I am also interested to see how welcoming and supportive European fans would be to NBA teams when they already have a professional Euroleague. I seems as if we’re a LONG way away from this.