SBD/Issue 36/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Around The World: Stern Again Predicts NBA Expansion Into Europe

Stern Remains Bullish On NBA
Placing Teams In Europe In Future

NBA Commissioner David Stern on Friday indicated that it is "possible there could be a five-team division of NBA teams in Europe in 10 years," according to Sarah Talalay of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Stern acknowledged, however, that "10 years ago he also predicted teams in Europe in a decade." He said that the NBA is "poised to have one of its best seasons on and off the court with increased ticket, merchandise and other sales." But Talalay noted that optimism "comes against the backdrop of a potential labor battle." Stern said, "This is going to be a great season and we would like it not to end with a thud." Speaking before the Magic-Heat game, Stern addressed LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade on the Heat, saying, "I've been at this close to 40 years, and I've never seen anything quite like it. The buzz that was precipitated by the three amigos deciding to spend their careers in Miami, it was absolutely extraordinary." He added, "You think sometimes the world has lost its mind, and of course with respect to the Miami Heat, it has" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/30). Stern indicated that James' arrival in Miami "thrusts the city into a global sports obsession." Stern: "You're going to begin to see Chinese characters in ads in the (AmericanAirlines) Arena. You're going to see the impact of globalization" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/30). Stern also argued that the "digital age of instant information has transformed the old-school notion that the NBA is dependent on the importance of large cities with historic franchises fielding successful teams." He said, "People say to me, 'Well, you got to admit that it would be really good for the league if the Knicks had a great time'. And I say, 'We've had a pretty good run and the Knicks, if you've noticed, haven't had a great team.' So I don't think location means as much as it used to" (, 10/30).

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote the NBA "did something no one would’ve ever imagined in this sporting nation: It’s opening week has gone punch for punch with the World Series on the basis of buzz and intrigue, with ratings at historic highs and video streams on the league’s website increasing more than 200 percent." The new-look Heat "promise to be the NBA’s TV eye candy, the can’t-miss villains vanquishing with speed and style and snarl." But despite the good start, Stern "had come to Miami to spread thick his labor gloom and doom, to push his prognostications of imminent financial ruin for owners" (, 10/30).'s Scoop Jackson wrote, "Damn you, David Stern. Damn you, owners. Damn you, Billy Hunter. Damn you, NBPA. Why can't I enjoy the official NBA comeback without thinking about how soon it all could end?" For years the league has "been praying for this moment, this post-Jordan moment where it no longer has to desperately rely on or market one superstar player to battle the NFL or NASCAR or Tiger Woods for popularity and love." Well the "moment is here," and it is "time to bask in it." But the CBA expires after this season, and "we're already hearing the words 'lockout' and 'cancellation' applied to next season." Jackson: "That's so wrong. Dead wrong" (, 10/29).

CALLING HIS BLUFF: In Newark, Dave D'Alessandro wrote under the header, "Contraction In The NBA? Don't Make Us Laugh, Commissioner." NBA team owners "didn’t buy their teams, they financed their teams." All of them have "accumulated mountains of debt, which they tolerated because it was all offset by the appreciation of their asset," and now that "balance is way out of whack, and their market needs a major correction." But contraction "won't happen," because teams "move, they don't contract." D'Alessandro: "In this environment, in a world forever altered by greed, we’ve lost our stomach for rhetorical twaddle. Especially when it comes from the Commissioner" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/31). In L.A., Mark Heisler wrote, "The NBA is at DEFCON 1, anyway, even considering folding franchises … in a story that somehow broke just before Stern's conference call, in which he wouldn't rule out contraction!" (L.A. TIMES, 10/30). In N.Y., Peter Vecsey wrote Stern's talk of expansion into Europe gives "new meaning to the term addition by contraction" (N.Y. POST, 10/31).

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