The Game Is Changing – Foreign Players Are Improving.
In the event that there’s not a lot of money floating around, organisations are likely going to want to minimise their spending (often American spots).
Taking on an import player usually means paying for housing, higher registration and visa fees. No doubt, the United States are still by far the best nation for basketball, but the level of European play is also increasing and one could say almost at a quicker rate than America (right now I’m thinking Serbia competing with the US in the Olympics – also that the main guy responsible for that now likely). Now last I checked, Americans have been hooping overseas for years upon years, even Kobe’s old man, played out in Italy years ago.
In the basketball kingdom, it’s common knowledge that you literally become those who you play with. One of the reasons that anyone trying to go anywhere, doesn’t play with ‘scrubs’.
One could almost say that it has worked in reverse in this case, more and more Europeans are used to playing against Americans and now have ability to compete on their level – this kinda offers a cheaper option to the organisation – whilst building something of a local hero (Ching-Ching!).
Another dynamic – with more players from overseas going to NCAA D1 colleges – once such a player has graduated, the option to sign in his home country is regarded a steal for any club in that league.
Why? Because they can now (strategically) use one of their non-American spots and still get an ‘American level player’. A team with more money, may even go ahead to fill the remaining American spots – effectively constructing a ‘super-team’.
Another option is for the team (usually short on cash) deciding to forego American signings altogether to save money on fees, accommodation etc. This ‘local hero’ can now be offered more money which will keep him sweet. Again, surely this raise still works out cheaper than the import’s going rate (plus the cost of keeping one around).
Great for the domestic player, not so much for the Americans in this case.
Also the fans get to benefit from a ‘local hero’ who is likely to increase following and loyalty and of course, ticket sales. It’s always useful to remember that basketball is a business first and foremost.
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