NBA All-Stars going to Europe?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks before the NBA All-Star Saturday Night on Feb 13, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks before the NBA All-Star Saturday Night on Feb 13, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.PHOTO: AFP

League keen to take star-studded showcase abroad, but Asia too far

TORONTO • The National Basketball Association (NBA) is considering taking its All-Star Weekend overseas and Europe would be the likely host over Asia given the shorter amount of travel involved for players, commissioner Adam Silver said on Saturday.

With Toronto currently hosting the league's first All-Star Weekend outside of the United States, he acknowledged that finding ways to take its midseason showcase overseas were being discussed.

"We're always talking about it," he said during a news conference. "It's logistically more difficult than it may seem because there's a ripple effect in terms of the number of days we take off on the rest of the schedule."

The NBA plays its 82-game regular-season schedule in about 162 days and has recently made strides in reducing the number of times a team play on consecutive days or a more gruelling stretch of four games in five nights.

But Silver said the league was talking to the NBA Players' Association about the length of the season, which ends in June, and the pre-season.

"If we travel overseas for All-Star... players will need additional time to adjust their sleep patterns and to get reacclimated when they come back to the States," he said.

"So the problem is if we leave the country for All-Star, it puts pressure on the rest of the schedule.

"It's something we'd love to do one day. It's not going to happen in the next two, three, four years, but I think down the road it could be a really exciting element for the NBA."

The NBA, which had 100 international players from 37 countries and territories on opening-night rosters when the current campaign began last October, has played a number of regular-season games overseas. In recent months, London and Mexico City hosted matches while Japan did so in 2003.

But the NBA, which is the only American sports league with a significant following throughout Asia, said getting the All-Star Weekend there could prove too difficult to pull off.

"Just to be really honest, I think getting to Asia during an All-Star break would be that much more difficult than travelling to Europe in an All-Star break," said Silver.

Charlotte, North Carolina, has already been named host of next year's All-Star Weekend, which includes an exhibition of top players, a three-point contest and slam-dunk contest.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'NBA ALL-STARS GOING TO EUROPE?'. Print Edition | Subscribe