NBA: Demanding schedule makes European expansion tough, says Silver

NBA Commisioner Adam Silver gestures during a press conference ahead of the 2015 NBA global game between Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks at the O2 Arena in London on Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
NBA Commisioner Adam Silver gestures during a press conference ahead of the 2015 NBA global game between Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks at the O2 Arena in London on Jan 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that his league is not moving as quickly as the NFL towards European expansion, partly due to a more demanding playing schedule.

He noted that National Football League teams play only once a week and there were bye weeks built into the schedule in contrast to the National Basketball Association, where teams sometimes play four games in five nights.

"It is a very different proposition in terms of putting a team here which is why in my opinion they are ahead of us and seem determined to potentially put a team in London," he told reporters before the NBA's annual regular season game here.

"They seem to be doing a terrific job," he added. "I've found over the years I have been travelling to England there is increased interest in the NFL. People are talking about it."

The Milwaukee Bucks thrashed the New York Knicks 95-79 at the O2 arena on Thursday, as the hapless Knicks extended their franchise-losing record streak to 16 matches.

The NFL will play three regular season games at London's Wembley Stadium in 2015. "For (NBA) teams to travel over to Europe, to get the appropriate rest, it requires that the remainder of the schedule be that much more compact," he said. "We would need to have multiple franchises here for scheduling purposes. If we were to come into Europe we would need to do it with a division rather than a single team."

Silver said, however, the NBA still hoped basketball could be the No. 2 sport in Europe. "We realise that global football, what we call soccer, is going to continue to be the pre-eminent sport here in Europe. We think there is an enormous opportunity for basketball (to be No. 2)," he said.

He said there were a record 101 NBA players this season who were not born in the United States, adding that 60 per cent of them were from Europe.

He also said the NBA studied how football clubs in countries such as England were involved in different competitions.

Football teams in England compete in domestic leagues, domestic cups and in some cases in European tournaments. "I think the model for the football clubs, the combination of cups. I think it is amazing to see," said Silver. "In the NBA there is one thing (teams) can win. I think there is an opportunity to have other tournaments that are of high significance within the season."