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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has outlined his vision of having four franchises in Europe moving forward in order to make the idea of expansion abroad more viable.
Silver has been widely praised for the role he has played since taking the reigns from David Stern last year, and he has previously discussed expansion as being a key part of his vision for the league moving forward.
However, while he is aware of the fact that the NFL is ahead of the league in that respect, he believes it will be a natural progression for the NBA to have franchises outside of the US.
“My sense is that the NFL is a little bit ahead of us in terms of their timeline for having a franchise based in London. There are some aspects of their schedule that make it easier – they play once a week, they have fewer games,” he told the media.
“It will be easier logistically for them to pull it off. It would be difficult for us to have one team in Europe. We’d have to put both feet down. That would mean having four franchises in Europe.”
Silver praised the arena infrastructure in Europe and his plan certainly makes sense as it would be difficult for one franchise, say in London, to work in isolation and under extreme pressure in a new experiment.
The presence of four teams would make the schedule easier to plan and prove that the league is serious about crossing borders and reaching over the Atlantic to grow the game.
“We’re not there yet. I know that as much growth as we’ve seen, we have a long way to go before we can sustain four franchises in Europe,” said Silver, who has worked at the NBA since 1992.
“On the other hand, I believe it’s our manifest destiny to expand.
“We are reaching new audiences. Each time we come, we learn from prior experiences and mistakes we’ve made. When we play here, I think there is an audience that might not normally watch simply because the match is here. Then there’s a viral component, word of mouth. The NBA is very much a creature of social media. That’s a large part of our growth.”
The Milwaukee Bucks take on the New York Knicks in the fifth regular season game to be held in London on Thursday night, and Silver will hope that the concept continues to enjoy great success with ticket sales proving that the demand is there.