8 International Cities That Would Host the Best Regular-Season NBA Games

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

8 International Cities That Would Host the Best Regular-Season NBA Games

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    With the NBA's global popularity increasing year by year, the league isn't far away from seeing regular-season games head to international cities.

    David Stern has already floated the idea of creating a basketball World Cup in conjunction with FIBA, thus removing the league's stars from the Summer Olympics in a bid to enhance the reputation and prominence of basketball on the world stage.

    Whether or not that idea ever comes to fruition, it's unquestionable that the league office is looking at how to best market and promote the NBA internationally.

    In 1992, the NBA (and basketball in general) took a quantum leap forward when the Dream Team lit up the entire sporting world with its dazzling performance at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

    The huge influx of international talent into the NBA in the aftermath of that ground-breaking summer not only raised the quality of play in the NBA, but took its international popularity to a new level.

    Sending some regular-season games to other major international cities could potentially yield the same result.

    So which cities would be the best places to host regular-season games?

    Here's a look at eight prime candidates. 

8. Buenos Aires

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    Paramount in the decision to send the NBA to international cities is a keen interest from the host country in the game of basketball.

    Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and the second biggest metropolitan area in South America.

    Already the home of a number of NBA stars such as Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino, Argentina is a country where basketball thrives, as is evident from their consistent high performance in the Summer Olympics and FIBA World Championships year after year.

    With the success of those players, as well as Argentina's strength in basketball and other sports such as soccer, the NBA would be gladly welcomed and well-supported in Buenos Aires.

7. Moscow

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    Russia is another country with a strong love of basketball. Consequently, taking the NBA to the nation's capital, Moscow, would be well-advised.

    Always in the medal hunt in international competition, Russia has also produced a number of NBA stars in recent times, headlined by former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko.

    Given the increasing quality of their national league, it's only a matter of time before we start seeing more Russian players take to the hardwood in the United States.

    By hosting regular-season games in Moscow and heightening the game's exposure, that process may well be accelerated.

6. London

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    The 2012 London Olympics were a resounding success, widely hailed as one of the finest sporting events held in the modern era.

    On the back of that success, the NBA already has games scheduled in London, with New York set to take on Detroit on January 17 of next year. 

    While the NBA's transatlantic neighbours are hardly a nation filled with basketball quality (given the national obsession with soccer), the league's popularity is continuing to grow in the UK.

    At Team USA's warm-up games in Manchester before this year's Olympics, the crowd was packed with locals wearing various NBA jerseys.

    With increased exposure, we may some more British-born stars gracing the NBA.

5. Rio de Janeiro

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    There isn't a city in the world that has more great sporting action to look forward to than Rio de Janeiro.

    In the next four years, Brazil's most renowned city will host the world's two premier sporting events: the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.

    With an unbelievable amount of excitement surrounding sport in Brazil, the NBA would be well-advised to cash in on basketball's popularity right now.

    Brazil has already given the NBA stars such as Nene, Leandro Barbosa, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter, so expect plenty more to come if the NBA reaches Brazilian shores.

4. Melbourne

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    Australia is a sports-crazy nation, and Melbourne is without question the central hub of it all.

    Although slightly smaller than Sydney, Melbourne hosts the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and Australian Opens for both tennis and golf, as well as being home to 10 of the country's 18 Australian Rules teams, the top rugby league team in the nation and the bulk of Australia's cricket action.

    Melbourne is also home to the southern hemisphere's largest junior basketball tournament, evidence of how popular the game of basketball is in Australia's sporting home.

    With the success of Andrew Bogut, the NBA has a huge following in Australia already, and that would only increase if regular-season games were sent to Melbourne.

3. Tokyo

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    Japan is one place where the NBA's popularity is bound to explode one day.

    The league has already taken its product to Japan before, and although the games were a sellout, the drawback was that central Tokyo didn't have a premier indoor sports arena, meaning the games were held well outside of the capital.

    However, given the ever-growing popularity of the league in Asia, the NBA could once again look to Tokyo to hold regular-season games, particularly with the marketing potential in Japan.

    Yuta Tabuse is the only Japanese-born player to ever play in the NBA, and while an influx of players from Japan is a considerable distance away, the NBA has a huge market available if it decides to head to Tokyo once more.

2. Barcelona

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    Why not take the NBA back to the city where basketball's international boom began?

    The 1992 Dream Team is widely considered the greatest team in the history of the sport. Its influence on not only the NBA, but basketball and sports in general, was unmatched by any other team in the 20th century.

    That summer in Barcelona was the catalyst that pushed the NBA to where it is now, with Spain subsequently becoming a force on basketball's international stage.

    The Spanish-born Gasol brothers have grown to become two of the NBA's most prominent stars, and Spain has been the team to push Team USA the hardest in international competition in recent years.

    With the impact of the Dream Team still reverberating from 1992, there are few places on earth that can top Barcelona as basketball destinations. 

1. Beijing

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    Yao Ming's influence on the NBA was simply remarkable.

    One of the most dominant big men in the league, Yao sent China into an NBA frenzy, with the league's popularity exploding in Asia's largest country.

    Even with Yao's playing days behind him, China is a basketball-crazed country, with the country's equivalent of Twitter boasting 52 million NBA followers. 

    Preseason games have already been held in Beijing, and it's only a matter of time before regular-season games head there too.