The NBA is currently in talks with FIBA and the EuroLeague to become a part of European Basketball, according to a statement the American Association made on Thursday.
The NBA has been brought into the relationship between EuroLeague and FIBA to help grow the league into its next iteration, and a European conference could be the end result. That could potentially mean the end of the EuroLeague as we know it, and the dawning of a new era for European basketball under the direction of the NBA.
Fueling the rumors is a spell of tumult in the EuroLeague, which saw its CEO Jordi Bertomeu step down from the league’s board. The NBA and FIBA are keeping things close to the chest as they make their moves in order to avoid any publicity distractions like European football did with the Super League.
How the idea for NBA Europe came to be
The NBA’s former commissioner David Stern originally conceived of a European conference that would pit the European basketball teams against the NBA’s franchises, but the idea was put on the back burner after Stern tragically died unexpectedly last year, and the difficult task of mixing the different leagues was left up in the air.
According to a statement made by the NBA to Eurohoops, the EuroLeague seems to still be a part of the equation, with FIBA and the NBA’s main goal being to advance basketball in Europe into its next generation without necessarily excluding the EuroLeague stakeholders:
“The NBA has a long relationship with FIBA in growing basketball around the world through initiatives such as Basketball Without Borders and Basketball Africa League (BAL). We have also played several preseason games against Euroleague teams throughout the years. As part of our ongoing collaboration with both stakeholders, we were recently invited to participate in discussions on how we can work together to grow basketball in Europe. We look forward to participating in further conversations in the future.”
FIBA’s participation in the deal would see them growing past their previously fraught relationship with the EuroLeague and into a more productive one with both them and the NBA. The disagreements between FIBA and the Euroleague have only served as a distraction for players who would likely benefit from better management.
FIBA and Euroleague were locked in a years long dispute between 2015 and 2017 over the control and branding of European basketball. FIBA attempted to establish a new tournament for European basketball, dubbed the EuroCup, and asked eight of the 11 teams that comprise the EuroLeague to leave the league and participate. The teams collectively rejected the proposal and stayed with the EuroLeague, leading to retaliation from FIBA.