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Britain could become basketball’s latest global outpost

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Sir Alex is gone long live Sir Alex

Basketball has some big advantages that I think are underappreciated.
1- It's one of the few games you can practise and play by yourself. Cricket requires someone to bowl at you or hit the ball you're bowling at them. Football is pointless without a goalie to beat.
2 - It is very well suited to indoors, far more so than any field sport. This gives it a massive advantage in cold, frigid parts of Europer and North America.
3 - The game lends itself to player rotation, so you can play it even if you're not too fit, as you get to rest. Not as easy in other high intensity sports.

Despite all the above I think it's boring as hell to watch. In football, pretty much any team can beat another on their day. It's not abnormal to see the bottom team beat the top team in the premier or other european league. When teams are mismatched in basketball, it's a blowout. In football if the weaker team grabs a goal or two and parks the bus it can be thrilling to watch the better team try to break them down. In basketball it's pretty much impossible to keep a lead by playing defensively thanks to the shot clock. Stacking everything in favour of the attackers is a bit too American for me. And all the constant interruptions and timeouts are great for advertisers but drive me insane.

Tom Meadowcroft

The NBA uses the booming music, the light shows and smoke, the dancing cheerleaders and the t-shirt cannons to cover up the fact that most basketball games are pretty repetitive, and often not especially competitive. At the top basketball is played by misshapen giants who in no way resemble their fans. 17% of the men who grow to over 7 feet tall in the US will play professional basketball. That's freakish genetics, not hard work and practice. It is not a sport where pasty white men of no more than average height will ever play more than a minor role (we miss you Larry Bird), so the British people will never field an internationally competitive team.
The NFL is fundamentally different than most sports. It is gladiatorial in its appeal -- people hit each other very hard, and players regularly get injured. That is also its problem. The permanent effects of the sport to the brain are becoming plain, and are discouraging youth participation, which will lessen the talent at the top, just as happened in boxing, where Mohammed Ali brought home the truth about brain damage in his sport.
Football (American soccer) is played by normal sized people. Those at the top must repeat ball handling drills thousands of times to become truly proficient. Talent matters, but drill and practice matter a great deal as well. This ensures that the pipeline for football will remain full. In contrast, any growth of professional basketball worldwide threatens to diffuse the limited group of freakishly tall men who can play the game at its highest level.


Britain is far from producing "Top" NBA talent... and even if they were to produce a superstar that will barely help with attraction rates. Look at the example with Dirk Nowitzki & Germany. Germany has barely grown in youth rates and less than other Euro countries.

It's about establishing a solid youth system and then a couple well known club names (like the author states with Barcelona & Bayern) to build recognition in their own countries. Then the growth in player development will take place.

Lastly, these teams have to recruit Internationally more in order to get the best young players, even America does this. The top Preparatory schools for basketball in the US give scholarships (And a little $$) to players from poor African countries (Joel Embiid for example). If European basketball teams start offering better options for 14-15 year olds that are almost 7 feet tall they could expand even more quickly.

FingerofFate in reply to mpw21st

Except for the Olympics, there now is no nationalistic or international regional basis for basketball team formation. But currently about 25% of NBA players are foreign born. Some very good players are coming out of Europe and Africa, and there doesn't seem any insuperable obstacle to those regions producing teams which could compete with American teams.

FingerofFate in reply to Tom Meadowcroft

The NBA, like all the telecast sports, use dancing cheerleaders and the rest to fill in the dead spots needed for commercial breaks and time-outs. And NBA players, like all professional athletes, can be regarded as genetic freaks, as very few of us have the talent or physiques to play at that level. But you are wrong to think there isn't a lot of hard work, practice, and skill involved, as well as athleticism.


The only thing hampering basketball's ability to challenge football (or soccer for the Americans) is the dominance of the United States in that sport. The US has not lost a competitive match since 2006 and has won nearly every tournament that it has put a serious effort into winning. If the US' best 12 players played against the rest-of-the-world's best 12 players 20 times, the US team would win at least 19 times. That takes away from the excitement of Olympics of FIBA world basketball tournaments. At least in football, there are a handful of countries that have a realistic shot of winning a World Cup.