Paul Blake is the Chairman of the British Basketball League and after commenting on his other responsibility as Managing Director of Newcastle Eagles he switched his hats and talked about The BBL and his hopes for the league.
Paul, as Chairman of the BBL how are you seeing the league shape up this year?
"Behind the scenes there's definitely a lot of progress going on in terms of rebuilding the infrastructure of the league. It is fair to say it has had to come back from a position of losing a sizeable television deal with ITV Digital eight or nine years ago. It not only knocked our league but knocked other sports leagues as well and continues to do so.
It changed the whole culture of sports television in this country and for me its still going in a bad direction and a direction that I think the Government needs to do something about. Hopefully the Olympics will help that especially in terms of supporting so-called minority sports which I quite frankly don't think we are but we're certainly a media minority sport in this country.
Despite all that we're absolutely as a league finding our feet again. We've just taken on a new Commercial Director for the first time in seven years and are bringing new staff in to the centre, so I full expect us to start building in strength.
The thing that holds the sport back and indeed all indoor sport in this country is the paucity of indoor facilities and a reasonable number of seats for supporters which we don't seem to be capable of building in this country despite the poor weather and that's something I really can't get my head around.
But we're working hard with senior politicians that are supporting the sport right now to change that culture. Once again the Olympics are raising the fact as an issue because several untelevised sports have been in the public eye for a few weeks and quite clearly the public enjoy them.
We've still got a lot of build to do and go and the league needs a group of Clubs that are playing in facilities that have larger seating numbers and that the Clubs have more control over. If we dont reach that goal and we need help to do that then the league will be what it will be. That's not the fault of the Clubs its to do with the stage that this country allows them to play on. For example, there are only seven Arenas in this country and by comparison there are seven Arenas in Philadelphia."
Some big statements made and clearly Blake is a deep-thinking individual that cares about his product, wants to take it forward and realises that to do that there's a lot of talking and work to do. But overall he's happy with the league going forward although he was not in a position to comment on individual Clubs.
"I'm absolutely happy going forward. Its an incredibly tough time to be running any kind of a business let alone a culture changing business which is what these Clubs are trying to achieve. There's a need from all sorts of Departments and organisations to give the same level of support to this sport that other Clubs in other sports get and take for granted in this country.
Yes, we have to help ourselves as well, absolutely no question and I think were doing everything we can moving forward. But again it comes back to the basic building blocks of Clubs including the facilities the sport needs. If we can start to tackle some of those issues over the next couple of years with the people we have supporting us behind the scenes who very rarely stick their heads above the parapets as they just get on and do what they have to do then things will improve.
I have to say I keep hearing that certain media protagonists in this country keep talking this league up as the worst league in Europe. But thats absolute rubbish. There are 47 professional leagues in Europe and we know exactly where we are in relation to that. We know which leagues we are playing at a similar level to because were trading players with them.
On a year to year basis were trading players with the Czech League, the Austrian League, the Swedish League, the Finnish League, the Dutch League as obviously we as in the Newcastle Eagles have just done. We are trading players regularly with LEB Gold. That's around about where we are and that tier of leagues is not the worst in Europe and not even close to being so. That's got to give us optimism moving forward.
Clearly Blake recognises there's still a long way to go for The BBL and a lot of work to do to get there but with his forward thinking attitude he can pull people along with him and get their buy-in then there's every reason to be optimistic about the long term future of The British Basketball League.
Glasgow Rocks (BBL) agreed terms with 25-year old American point guard Neil Watson (180-73kg-91, college: S.Mississippi) from Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders. In 33 BBL games in United Kingdom he had 14.6ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.6apg and 1.6spg (in top 5) last season. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. Quite impressive season as he was named to Eurobasket.com All-British BBL 1st Team and All-Imports Team. Watson was voted Kansas C... [read more]
Glasgow Rocks (BBL) agreed terms with 25-year old American point guard Neil Watson (180-73kg-91, college: S.Mississippi) from Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders. In 33 BBL games in United Kingdom he had 14.6ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.6apg and 1.6spg (in top 5) last season. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. Quite impressive season as he was named to Eurobasket.com All-British BBL 1st Team and All-Imports Team. Watson was voted Kansas City Kansan's 4A Player of the Year back in 2009 at his college time. Watson graduated from University of Southern Mississippi in 2014 and it is his third season as a professional player.
The Pacers and Nuggets will play a regular-season game in London - 2 days ago
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This season's NBA Global Games slate will once again feature a regular-season contest in London, with the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets getting tapped to head across the pond and square off at O2 Arena on Jan. 12, 2017. 'We are thrilled to return for our seventh regular-season game in London,' NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. 'With almost 25 percent of players in the NBA born outside of the United States, we are seeing firsthand the global growth of our game, which ha... [read more]
This season's NBA Global Games slate will once again feature a regular-season contest in London, with the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets getting tapped to head across the pond and square off at O2 Arena on Jan. 12, 2017. 'We are thrilled to return for our seventh regular-season game in London,' NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. 'With almost 25 percent of players in the NBA born outside of the United States, we are seeing firsthand the global growth of our game, which has never been more popular in the U.K.' While Indiana has played preseason contests in China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Germany and Spain, this marks the first time that the Pacers have headed overseas for regular-season duty and, as it happens, they'll be following in the footsteps of their NFL counterpart, the Indianapolis Colts, who'll take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in October. The chance to watch Paul George (6'9''-G/F-90, college: Fresno St.), one of the stars of the U.S. men's national basketball team heavily favored to win gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next month, figures to be one of the signature draws for the London audience. It's the Nuggets' roster, though, that features plenty of European flair, led by Italian scorer Danilo Gallinari, a pair of talented Southeastern European centers in Serbia's Nikola Jokic and Bosnia's Jusuf Nurkic (7'0''-C-94), and Frenchmen Joffrey Lauvergne (6'11''-PF-91, agency: BeoBasket) and Axel Toupane (6'6''-G/F-92, agency: Comsport). Denver also features talented young guards Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and 2016 first-round pick Jamal Murray, as well as power forward Kenneth Faried (6'8''-F-89, college: Morehead St.), who won gold as a member of Team USA at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. 'It will be a true honor and a great experience to represent both the Nuggets and the NBA in London as part of the NBA Global Games in 2017,' Gallinari said in a statement. 'Our entire team and organization are looking forward to this opportunity to showcase our league to fans overseas.' This will be the NBA's seventh regular-season game in London. Last year's edition saw the Toronto Raptors knock off the Orlando Magic; games from earlier years have featured the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons, making the Nuggets the first Western Conference team ever to make the trip for a 'home' game far, far away from home. The 2017 Global Games calendar will also once again include a return to Mexico City. The Phoenix Suns will play 'host' to both the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in mid-January, marking the first time ever that the NBA has played two regular-season games in Mexico. Courtesy of: yahoo.com
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