NBA chief wants to see more global matches - but logistics are a problem
Adam Silver says the NBA would have to amend its season schedules to factor in travel, jet lag and recovery
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 British capital. Tickets for the Celtics-76ers clash sold out in less than an hour and the game had a strong international feel about it.
Players from France, Germany, Croatia, Turkey, Egypt, Australia, the US, the Dominican Republic and Cameroon featured on court and the nationalities in the crowd reflected this cosmopolitan mix.
In the pre-match press conference, Silver was asked about the possibiity of matches being played in France, Germany, Turkey, Australia and Africa at some point in the future. While the NBA has seen great success in London, the American admits that the “logistical challenge” is the main reason why more games aren’t played internationally.
To play matches abroad, Silver (pictured below) says that teams have to change their schedules to factor in travel, jet lag and recovery upon their return to the US. The league itself would also have to amend its pre-season and regular-season schedules to increase the number of games in the international series.
When asked why the NBA didn’t follow the NFL’s lead and play more games abroad, Silver said he was considering bringing games to Europe but the NBA’s situation was very different from the NFL’s, which only plays weekly.
The logistical challenges were “much greater,” he said, and bringing the two teams over for just one game meant they had to stop playing in the US five days earlier. “Both teams will have roughly three days off when they get back,” he added.
The issue for the teams, he said, and the reason why he appreciates them coming over is because there are a only certain number of days in the schedule. “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,” he explained. “And the more teams we bring, the more scheduling difficulties we have.”
If the NBA is able to 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.”
Ticket sales are not an issue. “We could easily sell out two games, three games, four games,” he said. “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.”
Adding more days could be the answer. “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,” he said.
“I would love to do it, but still, we have the same logistical challenges.”
For now the NBA will continue to hold one regular-season match in London, but Silver did tell the London Evening Standard that there was a possibility the UK capital might 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 paper. “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.”