Are you sick of the off-court drama of the NBA starting to seem like it matters more than the actual games? Are you fed up with load management and star players resting on any given night? Do you yearn for just a little more emphasis on team basketball instead of isolation? Did you watch Team USA get torched by Andreas Obst at the 2023 FIBA World Cup and ask yourself who the heck does he play for?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you should start watching EuroLeague basketball. The season gets underway on Oct. 5 and is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in the history of the competition. This is not the NBA, and in some ways, that is a flaw. There are no players at the level of Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant out there. But for some basketball fans, that’s a good thing.
Truthfully, and to some this may sound like a hot take, but EuroLeague is what college basketball die-hards think college basketball is. That’s not a slight, it’s very simple: Professional adults are better than young amateurs. It’s high-level basketball without the star players calling so many of the shots. It’s basketball where an individual can will their team to victory, but most games require a collective team effort to get over the line.
There are a lot of reasons to watch EuroLeague basketball. We’ve touched on some briefly here and we’re going to list out five of the best throughout this piece. However, it’s important to note that we are not arguing for you to watch EuroLeague basketball instead of the NBA or NCAA. All three of these levels of basketball are enjoyable in their own way, and EuroLeague viewing should be an addition to your basketball intake, not a substitution. Here’s why you should become a EuroLeague viewer.
Why you should watch EuroLeague: 5. The rivalries and the fans
The NBA doesn’t have many fervent and active rivalries at the moment. Some would fill an argument against this point: Miami and Boston, Philadelphia and Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, etc. While these games have something extra to them, almost all these rivalries are very contemporary. The Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers were huge rivals for four straight seasons. Then LeBron James left Cleveland and that was that. Philadelphia and Boston are the only match-ups here with a long history of contempt for one another.
This is because the NBA has become a free-flowing league in terms of player movement. The days of one-franchise stars such as Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird seem to be behind us. That means the rivalries are with the players themselves and have moved away from the teams.
EuroLeague is different. The rivalries are historic and rooted deeply in organizational culture because European basketball uses the club model over the franchise model. These rivalries are also local and create environments that make Duke and North Carolina look like a walk in the park. The Belgrade derby between Partizan Mozzart Bet and Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet is arguably the best in basketball.
It is closely followed by the Greek derby between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. Rivalries between Barcelona and Real Madrid, known as El Clasico in basketball just like in soccer, Fenerbahce and Anadolu Efes Istanbul, and others are also intense. The atmosphere of European basketball is on a level that American basketball cannot relate to.