WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP NOT FOR NBA

Adam Silver has ruled out NBA teams taking part in FIBA’s global club competition to determine a legitimate world champion.

The league’s Commissioner, speaking in London ahead of Thursday’s Indiana-Denver game, has admitted talks have been held over the concept of seeing his titlists joining the Euroleague and other continental champions in a Champions League-style event.

The isolationism is simple, he revealed.

“To be frank, the top teams in the world are in one league right now,” Silver said. “It’s called the NBA and it’s comprised of players from throughout the world. 25 per cent of our players were born outside the United States. We’re not against some form of club competition. But it’s got to be real. Fans are too sophisticated.

“We have friendlies and there have been some close games in pre-season. But it’s one of the advantages we have in the NBA is the truly best players want to be in our league. Not to take anything away from the other clubs, but they can’t compete. They don’t have the payroll we have. The facilities. The elite coaching. We’re working to grow basketball throughout the world but don’t think we’re at the point where we can have a truly great global club competition.”

The other option, long spoken of, is to expand the NBA overseas, with Real Madrid among those who have expressed a definitive interest in hosting a European franchise.

No suitable building exists in the Spanish capital, however. The 02 in London is as close as the continent has to a NBA-calibre venue and the demand for the league to have a more permanent base here is far from proven despite the sell-outs achieved over several years of regular season games by the Thames.

“I would never say never,” Silver acknowledged. “And if we can do it anywhere, it’s London, just because of the logistics. Of travelling over here, especially from the East coast of the United States. And this is something that David Stern talked about when he was Commissioner, just because of the density of our schedule, if we were going to come to Europe, come to the UK, we’d need to do it with more than one team. To do it with a Division. It’s something we’ll continue to look at.”

Real Madrid beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in pre-season (NBAE/Getty)

Real Madrid beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in pre-season (NBAE/Getty)

But probably not. Especially with a greater appreciation of the impact long-haul travel has on athletes, Silver affirmed, and how fatigue plays a vital part.

“The science has got so much more sophisticated about the impact of sleep on crossing multiple time zones, and in turn the impact of lack of sleep on injuries. In a long season, if you have all these injuries, why don’t you shorten your season?

“If you graph our season, we don’t necessarily have more injuries towards the latter part. Where you see the correlation of injuries, it’s where guys are tired – playing four times in five nights, back to backs.

“That’s why right now, with some of the changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, we’ve added a week to the schedule. More days, same number of games, to alleviate some of the density.”

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