NBA commissioner Adam Silver would like to see more regular-season matches played internationally if the league’s logistics can make it work.
Last night saw the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-103 at The O2 in London in the eighth match played in the UK capital. Tickets for the Celtics-76ers clash sold out in less than an hour and the game definitely had an international feel about it.
Players from the US, Cameroon, Turkey, France, Croatia, Australia, Dominican Republic, Egypt and Germany featured on court and the nationalities in the crowd reflected this.
In the pre-match press conference Silver was asked by journalists about potential future matches being played in Australia, France, Germany, Turkey and in Africa. While the NBA has seen great success in London, Silver admits that the “logistical challenge” is the main reason why more games aren’t played internationally.
To play a match abroad Silver (pictured below) says teams have to change their schedules to factor in travel, jetlag and recovery upon return to the States. While the league itself would also have to amend its pre-season and regular-season schedules to increase the number games in the international series.
When asked why the NBA doesn’t follow the NFL’s lead and play more games abroad, Silver said: “We’re considering bringing additional games to Europe. I will say that we’re so different than the NFL in a sport that plays once a week.
“It’s just the logistical challenges for us are so much greater. Just in bringing these two teams for this one game, both teams stopped playing in the States roughly five days before today. Both teams will have roughly three days off when they get back.
“The issue for those teams is, and this is why we’re so appreciative of them coming, is there are a certain number of days in the schedule, and when you build some buffer around this game in the middle of the season, it requires compressing the schedule in other parts of the season. And the more teams we bring, the more scheduling difficulties we have.”
If the NBA can change its season schedule Silver said the league “would love” to play more games internationally. He added: “This game, as you all know, sold out in less than an hour, and the reason it even took 52 minutes was the limitation of technology in terms of how fast people could enter their credit cards and buy the tickets.
“We could easily sell out two games, three games, four games. The demand is there and the interest is there. It’s really more a question of our schedule and whether we can make it work.
“It may mean that we should look at potentially adding some days to the season. Maybe we should be looking to do some different things with our pre-season and shortening that and adding a few more days to the regular season.
“I would love to do it, but still, we have the same logistical challenges. We will continue to look at it.”
For now the NBA will continue to hold one regular-season match in London, but Silver did tell the Evening Standard that there is a possibility that the UK capital could one day host the NBA All-Star game.
“It’s something we’d love to do, to play our All-Star Game in London or Europe,” Silver told the Standard. “We have talked about it for years.
“Logistically it’s very difficult because of the length of break we’d have to take around the game. The payoff in terms of fan interest is arguably that much greater even than playing a single game here.”