Euroleague 2016: A Caste or the Dawn of Europe’s NBA?
The Birth of Euroleague
The beginning of this millennium signaled the birth of Euroleague, the new league every European basketball team can participate in. The structure of Euroleague follows the traditional European rules (size of the field, regulations, and schedule) and philosophy, inserting elements from the NBA (athletic style, time clock regulations) to make it faster, more intriguing and to create memorable and spectacular moments.
2016: The New Concept
Last summer the structure of Euroleague shifted radically. Instead of open participation from almost every European country, officials decided to form a predetermined league of 16 teams, participating in a full championship (30 matches per team), with the first 8 continuing to the play offs round, and then finally in the final4 (semi-finals and the finals which are only one game) which will define the final champion.
The Opposition of This Innovation
The opponents of this idea claimed openly that Euroleague aimed only to support the big European teams and that this change neglected the small national championships (which were trying to increase their status and gain a position in the ranks of Europe’s elite). According to them, basketball fans would lose their interest and Euroleague would remain strictly among specific national championships, such as the Spanish, the Turkish, and the Russian.
There was also a fear that this new league would erase the existing European basketball tradition, apart from the fact that the structure of the final 4 was untouched.
Of course, turning European basketball into an “NBA elite group” was not the only thing people were skeptical of. The NBA league is a unified system of matches, it is only one championship, on the other hand, in Europe apart from the Euroleague every team has to participate in its national championship and in the national cup. This combination of matches and championships could exhaust the players and negatively influence their efforts on the field.
The Benefits of the New System
Before its renovation, Euroleague was a successful institution and competition; however, it could not capture the interest of the fans.
The first part of the league was not interesting at all because of the noticeable difference in roster and budget among the participating teams. The most popular part of the previous system,the Top-16, was controversial because not all the teams played against each other. This led to the “giants” of European basketball competing only in the final 4.
Euroleague’s new system gave every team the opportunity to face off against each title contender. In every match day there was more than one clash between strong well known teams, keeping interest high and making the sport more profitable because of increased advertisements, high attendance, and TV coverage.
The 16 participants in the new championship were the most famous, the strongest, and the richest teams in Europe, who had already left their mark on European basketball in previous decades (European trophies, records, world class players). Without a doubt most of them were indisputably the best teams in Europe and were worthy to claim the ultimate European title.
What We Saw on First Year
I was dubious about the new system and what the outcomes of this innovation would be; however, I have to admit that the 2016 Euroleague was the most spectacular and captivating ever.
The new championship was antagonistic as no team held the title of grand favorite, and we witnessed an exhaustive rhythm in every game with big scores and amazing spectacle.
Great duals between the strongest teams in Europe held out attention and kept adrenaline high. At the end of the season everyone had to admit that this innovation was great because it successfully combines elements from two different basketball cultures, making Euroleague the most difficult European competition ever.
Euroleague did the one step further and changed the European basketball as we knew it. Now all we can do is to sit back and watch where this new era will lead us.