Thanks to the NBA lockout players have been forced to look elsewhere for a new job market.
All-Star point guard Deron Williams has already found a new temporary home, signing with Turkish club Besiktas. In addition to Mr. Williams, superstar Kobe Bryant is showing great interest in Italian squad Virtus Bologna. These are just the two biggest names of nearly 100 current NBA players who have either already agreed to play overseas or are in some stage of negotiations.
What does this news tell us?
Just that it seems rather evident that top NBA players would be willing to live internationally if they were being paid NBA level salaries.
At the same time, it's no secret that NBA Commissioner David Stern has longed for global expansion of the league. He has implemented many different campaigns to promote basketball from India to China and beyond.
What some may not realize, however, is that this expansion doesn't just include fans, Mr. Stern wants teams around the world as well.
And after seeing how willingly players from his league went overseas, he may push to take the NBA global, faster than anyone expected.
This is a huge revelation for the NBA and its fans. New franchises mean vast expansions of the market, new teams to root for and definitely new rivals to root against.
The first step to a global basketball league is most likely going to be NBA Europe. Whether it is a separate league, or more likely, its own division within the league, the teams will compete for the NBA Championship just like any team in the States.
I see perhaps five teams to start off. Some cities I would choose would probably be Athens, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Paris. While it would be optimal to get a team in London, basketball isn't particularly popular in England and there is little evidence to prove that the city could fill the stands every night.
As for investors, don't be surprised to see some of the potential NBA owners that have been floating around of late (Larry Ellison) get the opportunity to be the proud owner of a franchise in Paris or Rome.
Could you just imagine Dwight Howard debating between staying in Orlando or going to Madrid? While there may be some culture shock, many players might be intrigued by the thought of living in Europe for a few years, especially if they can continue to compete for an NBA Championship.
This would also have an impact on television deals for the entire league. Suddenly the television revenue of a regular season Milwaukee Bucks game goes up significantly if they're playing a team from Rome. Whole countries will likely turn on their televisions if they have a team in the NBA competing against the likes of Lebron James and company. Not to mention the excitement it will cause when some of the NBA's best and brightest sign with foreign clubs or even get traded to them.
Europe is a territory begging to be included and truly respected by the NBA. Thanks to the NBA lockout, Stern now has the proof that players are willing to go abroad.
Perhaps the time for NBA Europe is now. And that should be very exciting for anyone who loves NBA basketball.
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