NBA Commissioner David Stern has told fans in Great Britain to be patient with the British Basketball League and the game will grow in time.
With the Olympics done and dusted, there were major plans to build a post-Games legacy that involved basketball in Great Britain. Stern is aware of the current state of the domestic game and says that it is making very slow steps forward.
“I’ve been at this for some thirty odd years now but I still have a long term idea and it will grow,” Stern said in a press conference ahead of Dallas Mavericks’ NBA Europe game against Alba Berlin in Germany.
“The game will definitely grow in small increments but we have seen this happen all over the world and we think that there was a small burst of enthusiasm but unfortunately [Great Britain] didn’t do as well as they would have hoped that they would do [in the Olympics].”
Stern though turned his thoughts to the popularity of the NBA in Britain, which he hopes will grow and with the Euroleague Final Four coming to London’s O2 Arena, Stern feels that the overall state of the game in Britain will also get much better.
“I think with our games on ESPN and hopefully BSkyB you will continue to see growth in basketball in the UK,” he said. “But no promises on an immediate explosion, it’s just going to be long and hard.”
Stern added: “We’ve worked on China since 1988, we played our first game in Italy in ’84, we went to Russia in ’88 for the first time and all I can say is that there are more young people, more registered FIBA players in the world than ever before.”
Stern also expressed his excitement over the New Knicks visit to London’s O2 Arena, as they face the Detroit Pistons on January 17 saying that it will be another step to the game’s growth with a meaningful regular season game.