By Jonathan Ryan Davis
With the lockout lingering, triggering the odds of the 2011-12 NBA season happening to drop faster than the Cavaliers’ odds of winning the NBA title after BronBron left, it appears Euro Ball may become NBA Part Deux. Each week, more and more NBA players are signing deals with European squads. Additionally, the NBA’s top players are now seriously joining DWill across the Atlantic.
If they all decide to sign with new teams, could European basketball supplant the NBA for fans? Could NBA fans feed their basketball needs by watching their favorite players in different uniforms, playing different rules, and an alternative style of basketball? Would the great migration of NBA fans to Europe change the landscape of European Basketball or would the NBA players be forced to adapt to the Euro style?
To the first question, Euro ball could replace the NBA for diehard fans, but not the casual fan. The difficulty for these diehards would be the ability to consistently watch their favorite players on TV. A simple, and potentially smart, decision would be for networks like ESPN and TNT to sign contracts with the Euro leagues to televise a certain number of games a week. This would make the Euro game more accessible to American basketball fans, which would both benefit the fans themselves and bring a new audience (and dollars) to European teams.
For any NBA fan, it is fun to watch your favorite players play with new teammates. That is one reason why watching the Olympics and the World Championships is so intriguing. Seeing Nicolas Batum play with Nancy or LMA join one of the Turkey teams could allow us to see a new side of our favorite players, a side they could bring back to the Blazers once the lockout ends.
If a great migration of NBA talent boarded overpriced jets to play in Europe, the fear for European teams would be that the Euro style of basketball would change. Instead of a game based on “team,” continuity, passing, ball movement, and pure shooting, athleticism would trump the elegance of their game, just as it has in the NBA. Yet there is a large group of fans who prefer the more athletic game, and odds are, a great deal of European fans would accept it like capitalism after the Cold War.
For the sake of enjoying our beloved Blazers next year, let’s hope this migration does not occur. But if it does, let’s look at the positives about our men in red, black, and white playing the game they love in a new city with different accents.