League to blame or lack of interest in the UK?
With the success and popularity of the NFL continuing to increase in the UK, there are serious questions to be asked as to whether or not the NBA are doing enough to help grow the game across the pond.
Following the second regular season game to be held at Wembley this year, the impressive attendance figures for the NFL have resulted in an unprecedented three games set to be held in London next year.
While it may have been a one-sided affair with the San Francisco 49ers dominating proceedings against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the league undoubtedly succeeded in putting on a spectacle with pre-game entertainment and in turn recreating a genuine American atmosphere and feel to the experience.
In contrast, ticket sales have been poor for NBA Global Games that have been played in the UK with the recent pre-season game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers struggling to sell-out.
The same could also be said of last season’s clash between the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons, while the poor attendances at the Euroleague Final Four ensured that London lost the right to re-host the event in 2014.
A lack of interest from the British media coupled with the same level from broadcasters resulted in the Euroleague declining to return, instead opting to take the event to Milan next year although high prices were also a criticism.
While there may be a lack of interest in the European game in the UK, there is arguably a significant fanbase of the NBA. However, with just a day to go before the new season begins there is no sign of a new TV deal in sight.
It was a similar situation twelve months ago with Sky Sports and ESPN eventually reaching respective agreements after opening night, but with the financial aspects clearly taking precedent over providing fans with the opportunity to watch games live on TV, questions can be asked over how seriously the NBA are taking the globalisation of the sport.
Commissioner David Stern has hinted at the possibility of changing tip-off times to cater for the global market, but the younger generation of basketball fans must be given the chance to become more aware of the game through initiatives or simply having live games available on a consistent basis.
With the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks arriving in the English capital in January, it is hoped that they will have an impact on improving how the game is followed in the UK but with tickets on sale this week it remains to be seen how popular it will be.
If there is a substantial following here then more must be done to reward the supporters and the experience at the O2 must be improved to ensure that it captures the imagination of new followers and keeps them coming back.
Whether that is through bringing bigger names of the ilk of LeBron James and Derrick Rose here, or to increasing the importance of the games through an All-Star weekend, there are ways of doing it but much will depend on whether the NBA see the UK as a genuine market to develop.