It’s the 10th birthday of us. Somehow we are still a thing. Being a thing is really good. With that in mind our current editor, Emmet Ryan, has called on his own memory and that of those who came before him to mark this occasion
Well this was even more unexpected than you might think. A few weeks back, due to my day job, I was doing a security check on another website and found two things. Firstly, the site in question was safe, and, probably more importantly, that I could check URL registry dates on said site. So I stuck BiE in there and suddenly found that we were approaching a milestone.
That disjointed history isn’t exactly a shock to anyone who has followed BiE through the years. BiE was registered on 19 July 2007 and was initially ruin by Christopher Ney, Julien Debove, and Tobias Seitz. Then the man you know as Os Davis took over before he passed on the reins to me…right in the middle of EuroBasket 2013 because we don’t do things the easy way here.
From my perspective it was kind of a jumping in with both feet situation. I’d been a fan of this site ever since I got back into European hoops at the start of the decade, college, life, work, had led to a lapse. BiE was what got me back in and opened my eyes up to all the other sites that were popping up. That was something I loved about this site from the off, it wanted to push people beyond its own pages to the rest of the European hoops community and it’s really what I’ve wanted to take on board with this.
Given the age I went back to the very start, asking Christopher Ney about how he sees basketball then and now. His answer was pretty cool when it comes to putting life in perspective:
“Man time is running. 10 years ago there were no smartphones, not much twitter and not much besides eurobasket.com talking about European hoops in English. That’s certainly the biggest change from a reporting side that today each and everyone can declare himself a scout or a journalist on twitter and find potentially an audience,” said Ney.
“You have tons of games on Youtube streaming or through different other portals while back then Euroleague coverage was not that easy as I think Euroleague tv did not exist yet or was just starting,”
“Game wise the recent changes in salary cap had a huge impact while back then was the time when NBA players decided to come eventually to europe because there was more money to be made. Remember Josh Childress…,”
“For me personally though the biggest change is that i am 40 now, father of 2 and therefore basketball is far less important than it was back then.”
That’s pretty cool. Now, this being BiE, I can’t possibly continue this piece in just one format so onward to our birthstravaganza video:
So, yes, that was a lot of nonsense. This site has always relied on the kindness of the community across the continent and no-one has done more from that group for BiE than David Hein, particularly through the Taking the Charge podcast. As a mark of respect, I always wear my heinnews t-shirt under my shirt to award shows and Dave’s hat(s) are the most recognisable sight in any press box in Europe. I asked Dave to share his thoughts on how he has seen European basketball evolve in the 10 years since BiE arrived.
“Ten years may not seem like a long time but it is and a lot of things can change in a decade. European basketball is no different,” said Hein.
“In 2007, there were teams from Greece, Russia and Spain in the Euroleague Final Four. In 2017, there were teams from Greece, Russia and Spain in the EuroLeague Final Four. Ooh, wait, there is no change in that. Well, except that Euroleague morphed seemingly overnight into EuroLeague,”
“Sure, the dominant characters remain the same – CSKA Moscow, the Greek bad brothers Panathinaikos and Olympiacos and some kind of Spanish representation – Real Madrid, Barcelona or Baskonia. But there has been a major change in European hoops and its impact is far-reaching…Türkiye!”
“Turkey is everywhere in European basketball at the moment – a desperately needed influx of money that has pushed the game forward. Turkish Airlines, Efes, Dogus are just some of the big Turkish companies who have carried Turkish hoops up the country rankings. Istanbul is hosting EuroLeague Final Fours and FIBA EuroBaskets and FIBA Basketball World Cups. It’s like there is a reason to travel to Istanbul at least once a year,”
“And that came to a head this season as Fenerbahce Istanbul’s out-pouring of money for a legendary coach and high-level players paid off with the country’s first EuroLeague crown. That came one season after Fenerbahce became the first Turkish club to reach the EuroLeague Final Four [in the playoff era]. Fenerbahce has since raced away from the rest of the teams in Turkey and now are atop Europe,”
“This additional money has brought with it increased professionalism – spurned on by Euroleague (okay, I got it, Euroleague as an organization and EuroLeague as a competition). Euroleague became more and more professional and with it demanded the same from their clubs – made possible also because teams wanted into the league,”
“Another major change in European basketball in the past decade – okay, let’s stretch this out to 2004 – came at the youth level. In 2004, FIBA Europe changed the rhythm of the FIBA U16, U18 and U20 European Championships from every two years to every summer. In 2004, the Division B was instituted at the U16 level while U18 and U20 Division Bs followed in 2005. This gave more players the chance to play international basketball and compare themselves to other players from around the continent,”
“That also gave top level players the opportunity to be ‘pushed’ more by playing against older age groups. This allowed the player to see how he could handle facing older competition while also showing to the player’s club team that he could hold his own against bigger, stronger opponents,”
BallinEurope now has merch, like actual merch, t-shirts, phone covers, and even pillows. Check it all out on our RedBubble page.
“In 2009, FIBA came in and changed the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup to every two years instead of every four years while also starting a biennial FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup in 2010 as well. Those two youth World Cups would be played in alternating years and gave the Europeans both an earlier and more frequent chance of facing the other best players from around the world,”
“All this time and energy and effort in the improvement of the professional clubs and development of talent has also resulted in Europe losing many of their top talents. Huh, what do you mean with that? Well, the NBA has started recognising that Europeans are playing an elite level basketball and the increased health and fitness standards has increased the athleticism levels as to where the ‘Euros’ can hang in the NBA. That resulted in veteran Europeans being brought to the NBA as free agents as well as more and more Europeans being selected in the NBA Draft,”
“The very recent past has unfortunately seen the end of a relatively harmonious atmosphere with club basketball in Europe. A major dispute broke out between Euroleague and FIBA Europe/FIBA which resulted in the creation of the Basketball Champions League as well as the re-introduction of FIBA national team windows during the season. Many people in Europe currently fear for the health of the game as two large entities battle over what they feel is best for hoops in Europe and how it should look.,”
“How will it end? Nobody really knows. But what you can expect is BallInEurope to be there and breaking down all the on-goings in European hoops – just like it has been doing for the past 10 years,”
“Congrats to everyone who has been involved in the site. Here’s to another 10 years.”
The first time I really interacted with this site, Dave was involved. That was the 2011 Final Four where Panathinaikos won their most recent title. Os and Dave ran a live blog here and it was, from my small corner here in Ireland, the first time I really got to talk to the personalities behind this site and really with people who were properly into European hoops. That got me interested in sites like Euroleague Adventures which led to me meeting Sam and Rob at the London Final Four, the sadly passed Euro-step, and so many more.
Ireland, well, that’s a story with this site. It’s safe to say no nation gets a proportionally greater shout than its results would make you think it does than my home. It’s the work here in Ireland however that’s made me better at doing what I do on the continent. Stories like the focus of a Gráinne Dwyer, the re-build in Tralee, and getting to show live games from the league and cup here, opened up this site to getting more creative in what it did. Stuff like that is what leads to experiments like our 29 minute preview show, recorded on a phone and cut on Windows Movie Maker, of the Madrid Final Four. Stories like that made going to a bar on a lonely night before EuroBasket 2015 into something that led to the search for the tournament’s soul a week and a half later. Without Ireland, how this site (at least during the current era) covers the broader game isn’t what it is, so that’s something I’m grateful to be able to do.
It also made it easier to see how players who move to new homes have to adjust and make a life here. From Preston Ross to Jose Maria Gil Narbon to Jermaine Turner and Puff Summers, this site’s been able to see the different stages of what it’s like making a life in an unfamiliar territory. Through that, it’s been easier to understand that side the players have, to remember they are people at heart and have lives like that.
That’s been really important because, early on in my tenure, the approach was a touch too mechancial. The run through the end of 2013 into the first half of 2014 was still that of somewhat taking a step back and the 2014 Final Four was fun to cover, because seriously how could it not have been, but it was that autumn’s World Cup that laid the foundations for where we have reached and are going. The spirit of the Susijengi fans coupled with the erudite approach to interviews of Sinan Guler and the raw humanity of Pooh Jeter really helped shift the mindset here as to where we are going.
That carried on through the Madrid final four and Bobby Dixon’s story that summer with Pinar Karsiyaka. Indeed, Dixon, has been the type of player that has that crossover appeal. His game can be electrifying but the fight to get where he is today is almost as intriguing.
All the way through, we’ve been able to lean on some extraordinary luck. I still don’t know who Gabe is or was, the enfant terrible of our comments section disappeared following the site redesign in autumn 2014 and hasn’t been seen since. Fortunately we’ve been able to count on some planned and some delightfully out of the blue contributions from Andre Britz, Aidan Geraghty, Uygar Karaca, Quinton O’Reilly, Austin Green, George Rowland, Nicolò Origgi, Sam Chadwick, and many more.
It would be remiss to not mention my cohorts on the Sweet 16 podcast. Moshe Barda of Team Scout is one of the most intense people I will ever know but that drives his dedication to putting an extraordinary amount of work in. Aris Barkas, of Eurohoops, is the type of guy who can walk into a bar and say one line to end an argument. I know this because it actually happened in Lille but I was far too drunk to remember what particular aspect of basketball we were discussing.
To be able to make so many friends who are involved in both the media side and just as fans or, as it was for Savas Birdal at the most recent final four, both, is just a wonderful thing to take from my time on this site. You, the people that interact with BiE whether it’s here, on our Twitter, or in a pub, are the ones that keep us doing what we do. It’s a pleasure to be able to do what we do and I know I speak for Christoph, Julien, Tobias, and Os when I say thank you.
Here’s to another decade of drunkenly debauched disection of this game we all love.