How the EuroLeague is closing the gap with the NBA

Since its name change at the turn of the century, EuroLeague basketball has grown steadily. Originally founded as the FIBA ​​European Champions Cup in 1958, just 11 years after the NBA, the competition has undergone many brand and format changes in that time, with its current version proving the most popular. nowadays. While no league can claim to be number one in a sport globally dominated by the NBA, the EuroLeague is charting its own course as a high-quality alternative to American competition with ever-growing quality, marketing and viewership. .


The most important factor in the rise of the Euroleague is its ever-increasing quality. One of the main reasons for this is the variation that its continental format facilitates, while the NBA is based on similar nations, the United States and Canada, the Euroleague features teams from all over Europe. This gives the matches a true international feel, with teams from different countries adopting widely varying tactics and styles from their respective regions. At times, the NBA can feel a bit one-dimensional, as many teams look to play the same way, which means variation usually comes from individual actions rather than team patterns.

The strategic differences between the teams of the many European nations make the EuroLeague exciting for fans, both in the stadiums and at home. Another aspect of the EuroLeague that makes it so entertaining is the fact that games are much further apart than in the NBA, where games are played every 2-3 days. EuroLeague matches are usually spaced out a week apart, and although most teams also compete in national championships, the best players are usually booked for the biggest competition. The NBA also suffers from the negative effects of machine congestion, which also happens in other sports such as football and has resulted in a study conducted by three academics in which they demonstrated the effects of the heavy physical demands faced by elite players. In any sport, machine congestion causes an accumulation of injuries and the quality of matches suffers due to player fatigue. The EuroLeague has no such problems and is thriving accordingly.


As a result of the increasing quality of players and teams, EuroLeague basketball is also on the rise in terms of popularity. One of the main reasons for this is the constant flow of traded players to NBA teams, which has made the EuroLeague a great place to see the stars of the future. In the past, Pau and Marc Gasol have gone from EuroLeague dominance to NBA stardom, and countless others have repeated the feat. The 2020-21 offseason saw the Oklahoma City Thunder sign Theo Maledon and Aleksej Pokuševski from EuroLeague squads, while Facundo Campazzo moved from Real Madrid to Denver Nuggets and Nik Stauskas moved from Spain Baskonia to Milwaukee. Bucks. Such moves have helped put fans in seats for EuroLeague games, as they give fans the chance to see NBA stars before their rise to greatness. Additionally, the EuroLeague has also always been a viable option for players looking for a different path after spending time in the NBA, players like Shane Larkin who played for the Mavericks, Knicks, Nets and Celtics in the NBA , chart their own path in the Euroleague. Along with contributing to the level of competition in the league, these moves have helped the EuroLeague boast of having the second highest attendance of any professional basketball league in the world, just behind the NBA.

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash


Marketing is another area where the EuroLeague has made steady progress over the past 10 years, securing major sponsorship deals that have helped raise the profile of the competition. Since 2010, the league has been named after Turkish Airlines, one of the world’s largest airlines, in a multi-million deal. Whether by accident or design, signing with an airline has propelled the EuroLeague name around the world, encouraging more viewers from Europe and beyond. Matches held between EuroLeague and NBA teams have also helped to raise the profile of European competition, especially as fans have been able to see how quickly the gap is closing between the two leagues.

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