Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 at 3:24 pm  |  44 responses

Artest Knocks Europe’s Limit on US Players

by Ryne Nelson

For one reason or another, most of Europe’s best pro leagues impose a two-player limit on the number of Americans teams can sign.

This ‘limit’ has been argued to be to these league’s detriment, as many talented Americans are left to play elsewhere in Europe, often playing above the competition.

Ron Artest, who was in London this weekend for the NBA’s Europe Live tour, thinks the two-player limit is unfair to both European fans and the American players playing overseas.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

When Lakers forward Ron Artest walked off the practice floor of the Crystal Palace in the Bromley section of London on Saturday, he wanted to talk about what he perceives to be a limited population of American players in European and international basketball leagues.

“They need to let more Americans play in the European leagues,” Artest said. “There are only like two [Americans] to a team while Europeans can come to America [and play in the NBA] like the whole San Antonio Spurs team — a whole American team can be full of Europeans. Europe has to be a little more fair to the American players.

“You see a lot of foreign players come over to America to play in the NBA. It’s not fair that a lot of American players can’t come to China or can’t come to Europe to play with as many players as they want, so there’s no balance … They should just make it more even.”

Ron Ron makes a solid point in that teams like the Spurs have benefited from combing the globe for talent. Of course, the imported talent is generally from Europe, Africa and South America, and not the USA. But the point is valid.

The level of play in European leagues would increase if more Americans were allowed to play. And fears of the USA dominating rosters is probably overly worrisome.

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  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    real spill Ron Ron, real spill, currently have a few homies with some D-1 experience looking for some offers in Poland…hope it works out for them. But yeah, the whole 2 Americans per roster thing is complete and utter discrimination

  • Shu

    Yes, it would raise the level of play but there should at least be some Euro representation on those teams… Even if the limit of 2/team got raised to 4, then that’s probably 2 less euros on the bench, trickling down through the minors. That would harm the FIBA play for sure. Guys who won’t even be considered for US squads will get way more play than fringe Euroleague players. Those guys play major minutes for their national teams. Anyone know what they do in soccer? Most of the best german players play for Bundeslega, Rooney and Beckham played mostly in Britain, etc… Not sure if there is a maximum placed on imports or clubs try harder to keep their countrymen for PR’s sake

  • JTaylor21

    You people do know that europeans are just as racist as Americans. It doesn’t surprise me because americans were europeans that came over here, so the bad apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    I can understand the concept of ‘looking out for your countrymen’ and trying to help them secure jobs being these are lower level leagues….but even the MLS, considered by a lot of Europeans to be trash level fubtol is filled by mostly foreigners….really a double standard…..but I guess they don’t call this the land of the free for nothing

  • JSoulClap

    I get what Ron Ron wants to say but I think he’s missing a global view of the problem.
    The NBA is now full of Europeans who play well & help their franchises. But they spent their first years as pro ballers in Europe, where they were allowed to grow from young prospects to top class players.
    So, I agree that the 2 american players limit is too restrictive, but if there is no regulation, a lot of talented young euro players will not have any spot on pro rosters or any playtime to blossom. And both Europeans Leagues and NBA will suffer from that.

  • EJ

    USA is far away from being considered the land of free in Europe, USA is pretty close minded. And it’s not racist not to let foreign/American players play in Euroleague so much, they just want to “look out for their country men” like Kamla said, and JTaylor, race has nothing to do with your nationality. I would deffinitely like to have more Americans in the Euroleague.

  • The Philosopher

    I do not think it is a bad rule for reasons pointed out in the article. (the Americans will dominate rosters)I think they should create more teams in Europe. If not, then more U.S. players and foreigners alike will eventually end up playing throughout the leagues of the world, no?
    Of course it would take plenty of time, but…

  • The Philosopher

    Shout out to Femi Kuti.

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    @EJ I’m very well aware that Europeans dislike America and widely espouse the stupid stereotype that American people, a people too diverse to possibly pigeonhole into any stereotype, are ‘close-minded’. I never suggested otherwise. ‘Looking out for your countrymen’ is okay but systematized discrimination is not!

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    Like I said before, the MLS could be like these European leagues and limit the amount of foreigners able to have roster spots….but thats simply not the nature of this society period. Discrimination is discrimination period, what if the NBA were to kick Al-Hadadi out of the NBA because he was Iranian???? thats discriminatory/racist whatever you wanna call it and the European rule is absolutely no different….double standards

  • The Philosopher

    ^^Maybe they want to give other people chances to shine. lol

  • Brent

    It normally costs teams alot more money to have an american player on the team. If the limit of americans gets raised some teams will not be able to afford eg 4 americans while some will. The rich teams will then win easier than poor teams.

  • RedRum

    typical ignorance… the european system is completely different than the NBA… in europe teams are relegated to a lower division if they finish at the bottom of the league and there is no salary cap. If in fact he is wrong. I am sure You can have 3 non european players (it might actually be 6) and the rest of the team can be made up from any nationality within europe. The reason they only allow 3 non european players (i.e. most of the times americans) is because rich teams like Olympiakos, Panthinaikos, Barce, Real, would be able to have an all-american team and be unbeatable. If you restrict the amount of american players, this allows less rich teams to devote time and money to developing young national players. For example, filthy rich barcelona lost in the finals Caja Laboral because Caja had a bunch of young spanish players.

  • http://gregoden.com roybot

    Redrum is right. Its not that the Euroleague teams dont want American-dominated rosters, its just that FIBA or the governing body thinks its unfair to the less financially secure teams because all the big teams will be full of American D1 athletes and there will be no balance.

  • http://klatschendom.wordpress.com/ speedy

    CoSign RedRum.

  • http://klatschendom.wordpress.com/ speedy

    @ The Black Rick Kamla
    Just look at some team rosters here in Germany or Europe before you talk.
    There is a higher percentage of American players then any other foreign nationalities.
    And it is not about securing jobs but developing talent. Young players need to have the posibility to play on a high level to develop into players that can compete on this level. That is not possible if the roster is filled with players from foreign countries( not only the US ).
    So don’t pull the discrimination card on the national basketball organisations of the european countries if they set rules just to develop their own talents. If they wouldn’t do that they would be useless.

  • http://klatschendom.wordpress.com/ speedy

    I can’t believe that nonsense.

  • gunso

    It actually used to be that only 1 foreign player (maybe 2 i’m not sure) could play for a team, no matter if he was american, african og some country in europe, but the rule probably changed because of the bosman ruling in soccer which stated basicly that sports were a part of a profession like any other job and therefore it was wrong inside the EU treatment to discriminate against other european player since all of EU is thought of as a one work community, therefore the rule against players out of europe came to existence

    hope you got my point, english is a third language

  • Will Lee

    So what about US imposing tax on Chinese tyres? It’s just trade protection. If you don’t like the rules go play elsewhere.

  • Blackphantom

    I understand why the rule isn’t fair, but then again I understand why the rule is in effect as of now.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Looking out for your countrymen is a euphemism for discrimination.
    But, it’s their leagues. They know their fans don’t want to come watch a bunch of Americans play even if the level of ball is better.
    Americans did the same thing, only based on skin color. It’s wrong, but not surprising. Nor is it surprising that European folks are trying to defend their discrimination and call it anything but that.
    There are always justifications and rationalizations for doing the wrong thing.
    That’s why people do it more often than the right thing.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    If American companies decided they were no longer hiring foreign-born scientists because it was a detriment to the development of American born students, that would be discrimination and 90 percent of the cats in here defending this European teams would recognize it as such.
    If American marathons refused to allow foreigners to run, if American soccer teams refused to allow foreigners to play, if American colleges refused to allow foreigners to play division one sports people would see it as discrimination. This is hilarious.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    cosign allenp times a billion. also, and this is funny, is this rule is a blatant admission that american ballers are better than european ones. and most euro fans say its better basketball than in america, maybe its fun to talk out of both sides of their mouths?

  • http://yahoo ddub

    Basketball is a global sport,if americans go to other countries and win roster spots on their teams,so be it.America allows any person from anywhere to work and prosper,so yes, allow them to have more opportunities to play. We send are jobs to them!The least that they could do is allow us to play GAME!!!

  • http://twitter.com/malunewyorker Jer Boi

    It’s not just limits on how many Americans there can be, but also on how long they can play. which I dont understand…

  • bdub

    My knowledge of the European league is limited. But in the Australian-NZ League there is a restriction on imports. This is because
    The league is there to develop local talent. If multiple imports were allowed this would diminish local interest and local player growth. Call it discrimatory if you will. I’ll call it fundamental to any country that needs to develop that sport. This enables the local leagues to produce more international quality players.

    If we want to develop a GLOBAL game import restrictions help countries to develop their own talent. I for one find it boring if one country was to completely dominate a global sport.

    Take Rugby for example. If the Northern Hemphisphere rugby teams changed their import restrictions they would be flooded by southern hemishere players. This would mean less Northern Hemisphere players would get high level sporting exposure. This would mean their national teams would be weaker. Thus diluting the quality of international rugby.

    At times the comments on this site have ethnocentric tendencies. Lets try to put ourselves in others shoes before commenting.

  • http://wehoopecono.wordpress.com Rob

    In reality there are more than 2 Americans per team. Once Americans have played in a country for a number of years they can be ‘naturalised’ i.e. get a passport for that country, and so count as a domestic player in any European country. Then there are the former Yugoslav countries that just hand out passports to anyone, i.e. Macedonia’s national team features Bo McCalebb, dude played at New Orleans, then in Turkey and Serbia, never played in Macedonia before, they basically hired him for their country! Got signed this summer by Montepaschi Siena (one of the top Euroleague teams) and doesn’t count towards their 2 Americans limit. So there are ways round it.

  • bdub

    @Tarzan. I think everyone knows American ballers are the best. In fact i have never met anyone that stated otherwise.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    I need Artest to be quiet and just play like he did last year, before he says something that he cannot take back. BOOK IT!!

  • JD

    I agree the two player limit is a little too much maybe a 4 player American limit would be better but this should only be in the top European leagues it would hurt international competitions if it got any higher. For example, in Great Britain, we impose a six foriegn player limit so the national team doesnt suffer. I think to some extent Americans dont understand the fears that there could be all American teams in Europe, becuase without this rule, especially in smaller leagues, it would be a very real concern.And i dont think anyone would want to go to a game to see 24 Americans and no europeans play.

  • RedRum

    Allenp… this is ridiculous… you imply that for any profession that there is a quota there is discrimination. Don’t look far… look at the NBA. The do not allow anyone under the age of 19 to play. why not???? he is legally allowed to vote, buy a gun,drive a car, get any job he wishes, but he cannot play in the NBA? Isn’t this a type of protectionism?? the NBA takes care of its marketing, talent development, quality of play. European leagues do the same.

  • http://www.mvp247.com Greg Tanner

    There is video of Ron Ron saying all this here:


  • bunrt_chicken

    You have no idea how awesome this is watching a bunch of Americans cry foul. Re: the international stage. God Bless Amurica!!! I haven’t laughed this hard in years…

  • LeBron James

    “It’s always, you know, a race factor.”

  • Adrian

    Allenp, so I can assume that you think that the USA should just open their borders to anyone and everyone who wants to live or work in the USA? Because to not do so, to not allow anyone to just live and work and claim the same rights and benefits as a US citizen, based solely upon their nationality, would be discrimination, right?

  • MVPballer

    Wow, so much ignorance in here, it’s just outrageous. There are two reasons this rule is enforced, developing own talent, and a level playing field.
    As others before me have stated, if they didn’t have this rule young talent wouldn’t be able to play higher levels of basketball. Ergo, there wouldn’t be the competition there is in for example the olympics or the WC. ‘Cause they wouldn’t get the chance to play against better competition and develop.
    It would no longer be a global sport, just Americans playing in other countries.
    And, for the sake of a level playing field for all the teams. If this rule wasn’t in play, the richer teams would just pick up the players that didn’t make it to the NBA and just own European basketball.

  • PlanetAsia14

    Very well said Ron Ron.

  • blk_majic

    come off it, we all want to see our boys do well but its simple economics with the europeans trying to protect there own domestic market and standard of output.

    Greece’s national team aint going to get better if panathinaikos is loaded with foreign talent and their youngsters are playing behind them and fighting for limited mins

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Not sure how I feel on this issue, but Adrian raises a really good point.

  • the Dude

    The MLS would be nothing without foreign players. Euroleagues would only be impacted if big name NBA talent went, which is possible if the L is not careful with the new CBA.

  • JoeMaMa

    Ron talks about an even playing field, but the reality is that the talent levels are different. In China, for example, the game is growing; the professional leagues allow for local players to improve their game, which is a central point, as the national team will likely be picking the majority of their players from their top league. Having a Marbury is great for marketing, and gives kids a great example of a top caliber player, but if you want to improve your country’s basketball levels, you have to let them play, grow, improve. The leagues know this and, coupled with the essential fact (and this has been raised) that most teams couldn’t compete financially and competitively with a US-dominated team, they choose to make modest financial gains while investing in a more competitive product in the coming years, leading to a higher yield and more interest in the game. Most leagues/teams in Europe are like this as well: struggling to tread financial waters, barely paying their players. Many fold. I know too many friends who got stiffed out of their salary AFTER the season.

  • AMac

    It’s not about the fans not responding to the colour of the player’s skins (as is evident in the British League, where the majority of the guys aren’t white, and the majority of the population is). Most leagues have a rule whereby four of their squad must be Under 23 in order to ensure development, and only two must be non-EU. The majority of American players will stay in the same league for five years and gain a passport for that country, and no longer count as a foreign player. There are no salary caps in Europe, in the minor leagues (again, thinking Britain) the majority of the players are paid less than $50k per year, they’ll be taxed approximately a quarter of that, and their agents will take 10%, not to mention the GBP and EURO are stronger than the dollar, and the cost of living is higher, so it’s more like earning $20k per season-and the majority of American players wouldn’t leave their shores for that.

    Yes, fans would like to see locals playing, they’d like to feel connected to their teams, and they’d like to win, but unfortunately, this isn’t a case of Artest being articulate or intelligent, nor of the leagues and their fans being racist-the foreign players are marginally better than their home-grown counterparts, tend not to work as hard, want vastly more money and are often fundamentally terrible…why would teams want these guys around when they HAVE to have 4 homegrown youngsters around, as well as when most teams struggle for attendance and funds?

  • ITP

    I understand exactly where Ron is coming from: His fat brother Daniel couldn’t even make the roster of a second division team in Germany. Perhaps he could have played if ten Americans were allowed on a team…
    Allenp: From my experience, at least here in Germany, there is no such thing as “The fans don’t want Americans on their team”. Usually the Americans are the stars and the most spectacular guys on the court and therefore really popular.
    Also, the NBA really profits from having international players on their teams (overseas broadcast rights, merchandise), while no one in the US will start watching European leagues because there’s a lot of second rate players from the US.

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