Alton Byrd on British basketball: “I think there’s been a missed opportunity”

(Image/GB Basketball)

In a recent interview with NBA Call-Ups, Alton Byrd commented on the current state of basketball in the United Kingdom. Byrd is the Vice President of Business Operations of the Long Island Nets. The G League affiliate franchise of the Brooklyn Nets.

Byrd had a fruitful playing career in the UK between 1979-1997. Where he represented Crystal Palace, Murray International, Manchester Eagles, Glasgow Rangers, Kingston Kings, and Guildford Kings.

He was also the General Manager when at Murray International. Leading the team to 4 British championships, 5 Scottish championships, and the team’s first-ever appearance in the second round of the European Champions Basketball Cup.

Byrd’s Comments on Basketball in the United Kingdom:

“Obviously I played in the UK for 18 years, 19 years. I’ve had a chance to observe the league while I was there, then when I left, and now years after I left. I think there’s been a missed opportunity. I think our generation in the 80s and 90s created 100s of kids with British descent who played college basketball. Including a few that have played in the NBA. Like Luol Deng. Like Pops Mesah-Bonsu. There’s probably over 100 kids of British descent playing college basketball now in the US.

I’m saddened to see that the league isn’t more competitive, isn’t more financially sustainable, and quite honestly isn’t more commercially successful. I don’t quite understand why. Other than the fact that, and I’ve said this before, to have commercial success you got to have people who are commercially focused on creating a league that can sustain itself financially. What you have is some teams that do very well on a local level, Leicester, Newcastle. There are probably 3 or 4 teams that compete very well. Then the rest of the teams kind of tread water. Then there’s some teams that just can’t survive. I’m disappointed because I think that this league, especially in Britain, has every chance to be very competitive on the European landscape, and has missed the boat. Because, frankly, management, or because we have administrators with no commercial sense of what it’s going to take to make it work.”

Check out Alton Byrd talking about his role with the Long Island Nets here. As well as the operations of the franchise and the business side of the G League.

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