NBA Expansion In Europe: Could It Work?

Jeremy KaufmanSenior Analyst IJune 14, 2008


As many of you may already know, David Stern has avidly discussed a plan in which he would hope to create five NBA franchises overseas within the next decade. This would undoubtedly be a bold move, as no major league organization has yet to attempt expansion to Europe.

While the idea seems impracticable upon first glance, there also appears to be a large upside to such a move. Therefore, I will analyze the pros and cons of this proposition, in hopes of better understanding the impact it may have on the NBA and its fans:



  • Having European teams participate in the NBA would greatly increase interest level among both American fans as well as European fans.
  • Financially, the NBA could prosper greatly. Jersey sales would skyrocket both in the USA as well as in Europe, especially within the first few years of the expansion.
  • In recent years and in a variety of sports, foreign countries have frequently criticized the U.S for stealing away international talent into the American professional leagues. With European expansion, that would no longer be an issue.
  • If successful, the NBA would become the first professional league to expand its reach across the globe in the form of actual participating teams. This would allow David Stern to leave behind a legacy unlike any other, and it would be a credit that the NBA would have above all other American professional sports leagues.



  • Potential travel issues may arise. In a playoff series, not many players would enjoy flying back and forth between L.A and Rome.
  • Many American players would likely not want to play for a European team, as that would likely force the player to move to that city as well as his family.
  • Establishing an entirely new fan base and building new stadiums on foreign soil can be harder than it seems.
  • In the eyes of some NBA fans, assimilating European cities into the NBA would damage the nationalist pride of the league. After all, it IS the National Basketball Association.

While both the pros and cons for the argument are credible, I personally believe that expanding the NBA into Europe would be a great idea. If everything goes as planned, five European teams will be playing in the NBA within the next 10 years.

A separate division will be created for these teams, and scheduling would likely be extra sensitive to the difficult travel that these teams would face. All in all, I believe this move, if executed successfully, will benefit the NBA more than we can imagine.