Over the years, the NBA has had a lot of international influence which started with players like Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, and amongst many others. As the NBA enters its 75th Anniversary Season, the NBA rosters feature 109 international players from across 39 different countries. The NBA alongside FIBA is preparing to form a European Conference.
International Basketball has Become a Staple in the NBA
International influence has grown over the years as companies around the globe have exclusive TV deals to broadcast games on their respected platforms. Jersey sales and other merchandise have soared in recent years. Players are starting to forgo college to play overseas before entering the draft.
With the 2021-22 underway, it marks the eighth consecutive season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players.the growth has been astronomical as the number of international players has grown from five in the 1946-47 season to a record of 113 in the 2016-17 season. The Toronto Raptors have ten international players on their roster while the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder have seven.
The NBA has had an influx of talent from abroad as Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2021 NBA champ) each have an MVP. Luka Doncic won Rookie of the Year in 2015 and Pascal Siakam took home the 2019 Most Improved Player Award. There is no question as to why the NBA has begun negotiations in regards to creating a European Conference which is a European division.
NBA Europe May Become a Reality Soon
The European Conference may be the beginning of starting a foundation in that part of the region of the world. The Conference would be built under the NBA’s leadership along with FIBA as the negotiations are currently taking place. This deal could be a huge factor for the EuroLeague as the league has built a stern foundation over the years producing a lot of talented players.
Adam Silver has plans to send a letter to CEO the EuroLeague Jordi Bertomeu, a letter stating his intentions of establishing a division overseas. On Tuesday, the EuroLeague board which hosted shareholders met in Barcelona in regards to what this could entail for the future. The meeting hosted 13 teams, and the meeting’s main focus was about the league’s financial situation moving forward and how they are going to keep the revenue flowing post the global pandemic.
MARCA has learned that the NBA and FIBA have plans to launch this new division by next season if everything goes as planned. The blueprint is to target the best players in Europe to be a part of the division outside of the North American Division. This does not mean that teams in the EuroLeague will compete against organizations in the NBA at the current moment.
The NBA will most likely get the keys to oversee the brand. For now, the plan is to have NBA teams work with their European counterparts to form development partnerships. Over the years, recently drafted players from Europe have played in Europe to develop their craft. Some prospects have been in trades as the rights to certain players have been exchanged as part of the negotiation.
It would be the largest and most competitive project overseas in decades as former NBA Commissioner David Stern had a similar plan. However, the plan did not gain any traction as he visioned that NBA teams would play against the European Conference. The issue with the idea was it would have been similar to Europe’s soccer plan of creating a Super League.
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