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How To Bet On The NBA – Does The NBA Have A Presence In Europe?

Posted by Craig Parsons on 12/24/2012 4:25:07 PM

When people in the online sports betting legal realm make predictions and assessments in any sport, not just NBA basketball, they are talking about a league that is much more infused with a European presence compared to a quarter of a century ago. When the Soviet Union beat the United States in the semifinals of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, the professional basketball world changed. The American Olympic team, through 1988, was comprised of collegiate players who brought an amateur identity to the sport. The United States' defeat in 1988 caused USA Basketball to move to insert professionals into the Olympics, and that's what created the 1992 Dream Team, which thumped all of its (professional) opponents en route to a gold medal in the Barcelona (Spain) Summer Olympics.

Those games in 1992 captured the imagination of global basketball fans. They also made the players on the second-and third-place teams (Croatia and Lithuania) more eager to test themselves and rise to the level that they could challenge the United States in the future. You saw, in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, a process in which Europeans became better and better at professional basketball, enough to get a few prime players into the high-stakes basketball clashes that can legitimately be referred to as hardwood versions of poker games on  weeknights.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times shared some words about the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Once Brothers, which chronicled the lives of former NBA standouts Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic, including their relationships with former NBA players Toni Kukoc and Dino Radja, who also made their way into the American game from the former Yugoslavia (which subsequently split into Serbia and Croatia). Medina pointed out that "As Vlade said, in the time they came to the league in the late '80's and early '90's, there wasn't much confidence in the European players. People thought they couldn't stand up to the rigors of the NBA game. I think they were two of the first European players to make an impact on their teams and prove that Europeans could play in the league. They definitely opened the door for all the European players that play in our league today."

Even people interested in football betting more than basketball betting should find it important to assess the impact that Europeans have had on NBA basketball. In the 1990s, the Serbs, Croats, and Lithuanians all made an impact, as those nations challenged the United States for supremacy at the Olympics. In the past decade, the basketball community has seen Greece win the world championships (beating the United States at one point). Spain has imported the Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc, who have left a big imprint on the NBA. Pau has won multiple championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, helping Kobe Bryant to enhance his legacy. Dirk Nowitzki of Germany helped the Dallas Mavericks win the 2011 world title while also making the 2006 NBA Finals. Tony Parker is one of several French players who has made it big in the NBA, helping the San Antonio Spurs win multiple NBA championships.

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