By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
For Baumann “national teams drive the evolution and growth of basketball and, as the world governing body with the responsibility for developing and promoting the sport worldwide, FIBA is committed to generating new talent as well as supporting and strengthening national team competitions”.
According to his view, the NBA players are already absent, at least from this Eurobasket and they may be present in two out of the four qualification windows: “Concerns have been expressed about the absence of National Basketball Association (NBA) players during the November and February windows but these need to be put into context and approached in a constructive spirit. The rosters of the national teams at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 show that just 11 per cent of players is playing in the NBA. That means that nearly 90 per cent of the current squads would be available for those two windows and that all NBA players will be free for selection for the June and September qualifiers”.
On the contrary, Baumann believes that the EuroLeague has to comply with the new calendar: “Regrettably, a handful of European club officials that are part of Euroleague have publicly indicated they will not release players to the national teams in November and February as they need to compete in an extenuating and ever-growing (of their own choice) club season at European level.
They draw analogies with the NBA – a closed league – which are evidently misplaced from any perspective. The NBA is a private national league that was created in 1946, outside FIBA‘s environment. It has its own rules, a calendar of more than 80 games since the 1960s, and operates in the unique, business-driven US sports market, where players are developed through school/college sport.
For its part, Euroleague is an international European league involving clubs benefitting from their national leagues and being strongly linked to the governing body in each country, where existing state legislation and federation rules need to be respected. While we support Euroleague’s ambitions and share the same desire to have one strong top-tier club competition in Europe, ultimately the position of these few clubs would be to the detriment of their own countries, whose chances of qualifying will be diminished. National teams will be weakened and individual players, who are proud to wear their country’s colours, will have that rare opportunity taken away from them.
It is not as though the restructuring of the FIBA calendar came as a surprise to anybody. The process began in March 2011 with an in-depth consultation process involving leagues, Federations and other stakeholders. The exact dates of the national team windows were confirmed and published in August 2015, giving everybody involved plenty of time to adjust.
The decision to adopt a new calendar was taken unanimously by the FIBA World Congress in the best interests of basketball worldwide to develop more countries and players, an objective shared by all experts and the NBA.
At FIBA, we see basketball through a wider lens and consider the long-term health of the sport around the world. This new calendar is a crucial step in the growth of basketball as we aim to become the most popular sport in every corner of the world. Any action taken in the commercial interests of a few and which weakens a large numbers of European domestic leagues and national teams is regrettable and does not have the sport at its heart.
It is time to accelerate the development of basketball by bringing national teams home. We must work together to make the new calendar a success and FIBA’s door is always open to those who want to enter into positive dialogue based on the best principles of sport and the long-term interests of global basketball”.