Is the NBA Dominance Threatened by the New European Market?

Nohome JeromeCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2008

Josh Childress, Carlos Delfino, Juan Carlos Navarro, Primos Brezec, Bostjan Nachbar, Jorge Garbajosa. What do these guys have in common?

They have rejected their future in the NBA, taking the option to play in Europe next seasons. The strength of the Euro, the weakness of the dollar and the economic power of many European teams is changing the dynamic. Some clubs can compete with the NBA in salaries and players look now to the old continent as a reliable option.

This is disturbing the NBA operation, but, is this new trend a real threat to the NBA dominance?

Well, is thought to predict the future, but in my opinion many things have to change in order to make the European competition a real option of dominance in the next decade.

Current moves are enabled by four reasons:

1. Rich owners: Many rich people are entering in world of basketball. They are billionaires, and they ride their teams as a hobby. They invest millions of euros, but they don’t recover almost anything. They don’t worry about money. They have too much. A perfect example is Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC and investor of CSKA Moscow, former Euroleague champion.

2. Contracts free of taxes: Contracts in Europe are free of taxes. When a player signs 12 millions of euros for three seasons, he is paid just this amount. This will earn Josh Childress in his European career. Twenty free millions of dollars in three years.

3. Soccer clubs that maintains the basketball section: There are two major examples: Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Their soccer teams generate millions of euros, and the club invests a minimal part of the total into the basketball team.

4. The strength of the Euro: Today is more interesting working in Europe than in the States. Quite simple.

These are the facts that are setting Europe at the spotlight. Many talented players are coming here to play the game of basketball, but there is much work to do. Basketball in Europe has to capture the momentum, make several changes in the organization of the game environment and build a solid product that is able to compete in business terms with the NBA. 

Time to step forward

The European League has to start right now. The local competition is not in their best moment. Only the Spanish one has a reliable group of powerful teams. In the rest of the continent, a couple of teams per country dominate year by year.

Running the European League will generate much more income. The level would be better and the product would be awesome. The product would also be more attractive for television and sponsors.

Nowadays, the Euroleague is broadcast by local stations; unbelievable for a continental event.

All of this would give all the clubs a solid economic base, making them able to face the salaries of emergent European stars, avoiding their departure to the NBA.

Can you imagine a real playoff system involving a seven game series with teams such as Maccabi, Tau, Panathinaikos or Olympiacos?

Sounds great.

So, what’s the problem?

The European mentality: here, the game of basketball is not understood as a business. For this reason I think that, unfortunately, Europe will miss the chance to build a competition able to compete in talent, show and business with the NBA.

In many years, the rich guys will get fed up with basketball, and the dollar will recover its position, and everything will be the same.  

I hope to be wrong. In this case, a new stage of dominance will begin, and the threat will be pretty real.

But, by now, this trend is a simple disruption for the NBA.