Jordi Bertomeu sceptical about NBA expansion

Jordi BertomeuJordi Bertomeu, CEO of Euroleague is not sure about possible NBA expansion in Europe. Sports Illustrated published an article with his views. Bertomeu named at least four reasons that make the expansion questionable. Although David Stern has a different opinion and believes that NBA could succeed in Europe.

One of the reasons why NBA expansion might not work is that European clubs don't try to make a profit. Owners of the European clubs are spending money without thinking about return. It's spending rather investing. "For me too, it is amazing,'' Bertomeu said. "But it is part of the culture. It is difficult to explain.''

"These owners,'' Bertomeu said of the top basketball clubs in Europe, "they think this is something they are giving to the community. If you ask Mr. Gilberto Benetton why he is spending this crazy amount of money on the team, he will say that this is something I have to pay back to my region because I am from here, all of my business has been grown here, and I want to do this. So he spends money for the rugby team, for the basketball team, for the volleyball team, and he spends tons of money. And you talk about the owner of Panathinaikos, he is proud to spend – not invest – every year 15 million Euros ($22 million) just to cover the budget of the basketball team. He loves this. It is his passion. He is like some crazy fan.''

Another potential problem for the NBA is that fans in Europe support their clubs unlike USA where individual players is the preference. People don't change the team they support because a certain player leaves or joins the club. Americans usually attend games as cinema. The show is more important than the competition. "In Europe, the brand is not the player; the brand is the club'', said Jordi Bertomeu.

There might be some legal issues as well. While NBA is located in United States (except Toronto Raptors), Euroleague teams come from different countries. That means that there are 13 different legal systems.

"This is something that also the NBA has to take into account. Because the law in Paris is the French law, and nobody who plays in Paris can ask for a different law other than the French law. So I would like to learn how the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA works in Europe. That would be very interesting from the legal point of view.

"I also am interested to see what is the FIBA position on NBA expansion to Europe because FIBA is the body who runs basketball around the world. It's in their hands."

And finally, will NBA be able to sell the tickets at the prices that they sell them in United States? Income from ticket sales does not make a big part of the budget of European clubs. Euroleague is working in this direction and is trying to change the current situation.

"Or if this is not possible, if we all are going to compete in the same market, then who will be in the better position? Will it be a strong, very recognized brand like the NBA, or will it be the traditional leagues in Europe? We will see.

"No matter if the NBA is coming or not coming, we definitely have to grow basketball in Europe. If they come, then they will come and we will see what happens. I have my doubts about it if – this is very important – they want to export the American model in Europe. In terms of the approach, the ticketing, the TV and the main business, this is the question mark.

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