NBA commissioner Adam Silver was interviewed by the BBC during the league’s All-Star weekend festivities and he took the opportunity to once again express his admiration for European football.
Silver has previously expressed a desire to have a midseason tournament for basketball, like the FA Cup or Champions League, and has also said the NBA wants to have a European-based team following the success of their trips to London. Now he says he’s just straight up jealous of European football and their fans’ “religious” devotion.
“There’s so much that happens in European soccer that I’m jealous of,” Silver says. “I think the Champions League is a fantastic concept — one that we’re always looking at. I just think also that the depth of the fandom, the loyalty of the fans, it’s almost a religious aspect to fandom.”
Silver goes on to say that in the U.S, that type of fan devotion is more prevalent at the collegiate level. That’s probably because universities don’t betray local communities by relocating to different cities on the whim of a billionaire the way NBA franchises do. But Silver only mentions the crowded landscape for professional sports in many American cities.
Anyway, it’s probably just a matter of time now before MLS commissioner Don Garber calls a press conference in order to scold Silver for for being a “Euro snob” (“To think that we are not aligned with our National Basketball Association commissioner is disappointing and personally infuriating, frustrating as hell!” Garber will shout in response to the perceived slight against MLS and American soccer).
You can see the full interview, including Silver’s perspective on the economics of league broadcast mega-deals, below. It’s worth hearing.