Across the pond: Adam Silver is right about NBA and NFL European franchises

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been in the press lately for saying that he is open to changes to the NBA Play-off format, but it is his opinion on a European based NBA franchise that I find more interesting.

Attending the annual Sloan Conference on sports analytics, Silver claimed that a European based NBA franchise would be impractical.

He's not wrong is he?

I mean the time to travel for both players and fans is clearly the big problem here but there are other factors that would contribute to the franchise possibly even being a failure.

It's hard to see, with so many games played on home turf, any American fans wanting to take the time not to mention the money to travel to Europe for one of their teams games.

What about the other way? Would a European based team build up enough of a fan base that fans would want to cross the Atlantic for a game?

There is no doubt in my mind that at first, yes an NBA franchise based on this continent would prove advantageous- particularly when LeBron James and the Miami Heat make it across the pond.

But is it sustainable in the long term? In a word, no.

It would be too easy to fall apart, what if the team starts dropping and isn't very successful? What if the bigger name players are offered bigger and better contracts on American shores?

There are just too many barriers to prevent the idea from developing in my opinion.

So what did Silver say about the NBA coming to Europe? well he pictured a European based division which the American based teams could spend a set amount of time touring during the regular season.

That is far more realistic but still faces the big problem of player attraction, if the teams in the European division don't get the amount of money the US based franchises do, then they will attract lesser players and the 'tours' will become a competition in who can come away with the most points.

I should point out, I'm not trying to destroy the idea of a European based NBA franchise but looking at it realistically, can the NBA, European basketball or the fans really benefit from it?

By now i'm sure you're asking what the NFL has to do with this?

Well it's a well known fact that the NFL likes coming to London, the International Series is one of the most attended events at Wembley Stadium each year and talks have previously took place to discuss a London based NFL franchise.

Yes, Wembley sells out every IS game. Yes there is an ever growing following of American football in the UK, but big enough that fans would constantly attend matches?

2014 will see Wembley host three regular season NFL games for the first time and if all three sell out it will be impressive but it won't be enough of an indicator as to whether or not they could sell out 16.

In my opinion they couldn't, for many American football fans in the UK, the IS is a special event and they travel from all around the country to go and see America's biggest teams...... and the Jacksonville Jaguars of course.

But if there was a franchise permanently located here, would there be enough of a fan base to a) be able to afford to or b) be willing to go to every game.

I don't think so and over the coming years maybe more will happen in the development of the NBA and the NFL in Europe but from the current standpoint, I think it may all just be a bridge to far.


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