LONDON — The success of this weekend’s first regular-season games in Europe will play a large part in whether the NBA comes back to London next year.
The New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors play Friday and Saturday at the O2 Arena, the same venue that has hosted sellout games the last four preseasons.
“I’m not so sure about every season, but I think it will become a regular feature,” NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. “I think it depends in large part on the success we have this weekend.”
The NFL has played regular-season games at Wembley Stadium the last four seasons. But the NBA, with teams playing several times a week, is trying to figure out if the travel is too much for the players.
Silver also echoed Commissioner David Stern’s comments about the possibility of having a franchise in Europe, saying there likely would be more than one.
“If we were to bring a franchise to Europe, it would be a division,” Silver said, noting that it probably would take a decade to get it done. “I think it’s possible.”
The O2 Arena is an NBA-style venue that has also hosted concerts, including the Led Zeppelin reunion show in 2007. Although there are few other arenas in Europe up to NBA standards, Paris and Berlin appear likely candidates to get teams.
“We have to make sure the infrastructure is right,” Silver said, “but we also have to make sure that the revenue streams can support NBA-style basketball.”