How Big of a Sport is Basketball in the UK?

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The NBA is one of the most well-known sports leagues around the world. Basketball is one of America’s most popular sports and it continues to grow around the world in regions where it has different sports to compete with than at home.

In the UK, soccer is the national sport, and its basketball leagues are little known around the country to anyone without a deep fandom of the sport.

NBA championship odds are followed despite the sport not having a domestic league having the history the sport does in America.

While basketball has never been one of the biggest sports in the UK it continues to grow, and the NBA has continually gained a bigger and beiger following abroad.

Since the days of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman entertaining the world at the Chicago Bulls in the 90s, there has been interest in the league which provides superstars as well as entertaining basketball.

Even today, with LeBron James ad Steph Curry balling out, there is easier access to the league which was a barrier to generations in the past.

You can now access the league through NBA League Pass as well as find all their highlights on YouTube. As the league was gaining traction in the UK back in the 90s this wasn’t available, now we can follow players and teams on social media as well as watch their games online.

With more attention on the sport than ever before, it is even more accessible in schools and on the playgrounds than it was for previous generations.

The sport Is fast paced, with a great energy behind it which really appeals to the crowd. You’re not just watching a game your being entertained.

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American sports often appeal to new fans in the United Kingdom as they bring more of an entertainment angle to them, rather than just the sport itself. The players are like role models, and they are easily accessible online and the league and the club’s market itself so well.

Three of the biggest sides in England continue to compete and grow the league while trying to build their reputations in Europe as well.

London Lions

The Lions are one of the top sides in the UK and currently reigning champions of the British Basketball League having won the 2022 tile with a 12-point cushion.

They became the first British side to compete in the EuroCup Playoffs this season, showing a huge step for British Basketball. A defeat to Joventud ended their campaign in the Round of 16 but just qualifying for the knockout rounds shows the progression of the sport and the league in the United Kingdom.

Newcastle Eagles

The northeast side are the most successful team in British Basketball. Winning the Championship seven times and finishing runners up six times, they are though on a baron patch having not lifted a title since the 1014/15 season.

Leicester Riders

Having been champions for the sixth time back in 2021/22 they lost their title to the London Lions last season. They are just one championship behind Newcastle Eagles with six wins and finished runners-up on three occasions.

The NBA will continue to access the market in the UK and has big plans for its future.

The mayor of London and Basketball England recently launched a London Coaches Program in partnership with the NBA. This initiative is aimed at improving and developing the coaching abilities of hundreds of coaches who in turn will then reach thousands of young people across the country.

NBA Europe and Middle East Managing Director, Ralph Riviera stated “Collaborating with Mayor Khan and Basketball England to train the next generation of coaches in London is a logical next step in our ongoing efforts to grow basketball at the grassroots level in England. High-quality coaching is critical in getting more youth to learn and play the game the right way, and the London Coaches Program will give coaches the tools, resources, and techniques they need to grow interest and participation in their local communities.  We thank Mayor Khan and Basketball England for their support and belief in the impact this program can have on elevating the sport.”

Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett.  “We are proud to be working alongside the NBA and the Mayor of London to deliver this programme and train a cohort of great basketball coaches that can change and positively influence not only their own lives, but the lives of thousands of young Londoners.”

By ensuring the future of British Basketball is being developed, the NBA will continue to reach a wider audience and gain a larger following across the UK. It does exactly this around the world as it looks to reach out just like the NFL and MLB do.

There is a real connection between the UK and America when it comes to sports, and ensuring that the next generation has access to high quality and engaging coaching ensures they are developing their interest at a young age to become lifelong fans of the sport.

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