Europe for Americans
June 15th, 2010

More than one person has asked me in the past for a definition of how basketball works in Europe. Those persons are always American. They see words like “domestic competition,” “Euroleague” and “Cup,” and they panic. All of those are concepts alien to the NBA, an incestuous league that only plays with itself, and they are not understood by the majority of American NBA fans. (Or, if not the majority, at least some.) So I’ll try to explain. All countries in Europe have their own domestic leagues. There’s the strong ones (Turkey, Spain, and a much weakened Italy), the top-heavy ones (Greece, Russia, etc), the ones slightly below that (Germany, France, etc), all the way down to the insignificantly terrible leagues (such as those in Moldova, Azerbaijan and Britain). Those leagues are by and large just like the NBA; over the course of several months, everybody plays everybody, with regular seasons and playoff structures. And at the end of it all, the best team wins. All these leagues are different in their own way; the French league is notorious for bad defense, and the Greek league is more physical than many of the others. (It’s also infamous for the salary payments being hideously inconsistent, something not helped by the current general Greek economic turmoil. For example, Maroussi – Greece’s third best team – have recently agreed to a two year repayment structure for their players who did not get paid last year, and may have to merge with a team from Crete just to stay solvent. It happens all across Europe at various times, but it happens a lot more in Greece.) However, they play fundamentally the same format. I have never seen a basketball league that does not have playoffs. For the most part, European teams are not built […]

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