The situation with the Covid-19 pandemic has ripped us off a lot of good things we have in the world. One of the most significant losses for sports fans has been the inability to watch sports live or the fact you have to watch games on television in dead silence with no fans in the crowd. It has taken away the pure meaning of sports from us, but it will all come back with patience.
When you watch NBA basketball and European basketball, sometimes you can get the feeling you are watching two different worlds. Sure it is because of the players and style of play that is vastly different. But what makes the disparity between the two worlds even more noticeable is the atmosphere and the crowd.
We recently had a chat with former NBA player Geert Hammink on our “1-ON-1 with Basketball Network” podcast and talked about various interesting topics. From playing with Shaq at LSU, his NBA and international career, and comparing the two basketball worlds, he played in. While talking about that last topic, Geert touched on the subject of European fans and described how it looks first-hand:
“They were incredibly crazy and I mean crazy in a positive sense. You know, I remember games with either three of the teams that I played with, where you come an hour and half before the game and there’s an entire section already packed with fans singing, jumping, dancing. They are singing these orchestrated, synchronized war songs, it’s beautiful. So you walk in the gym and you have goosebumps. And then you go taped and changed and you come out to get your pre-game shots up and they’re still doing the exact same things. Then the game starts and they do it throughout the game, then you go take a shower and get dressed and they’re still there. I mean it’s amazing.”Geert Hammink, via 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
As someone who has seen some of the fiercest fans and arenas first-hand, I can assure you Geert is spot on. Playing for clubs like AEK, Aris, and Alba Berlin, Hammink has seen some great crowds. In countries like Greece, Croatia, Serbia, Lithuania and many more you can find the most enthusiastic crowds you will ever see. The atmosphere at the games of particular European clubs is something you would never forget. The passion and constant cheering from before the game till after the game is ongoing. The fans are singing songs and standing during the whole contest while cheering their team on and trying to help them get an edge.
When you compare that type of atmosphere to the crowd we see at NBA games, you can’t help but wonder how that is. The NBA has much better players and quality of the game than European teams, but the fans are more passionate and into the game. It is all about the mentality and passion for the club and the game. In NBA, it is all about the show. Most people come to watch individuals pull off spectacular moves and don’t really care about the game’s outcome.
We have even worse examples of people that just come to the game to be seen or hang out, eat some hot dogs and watch the show on the court in-game stoppage. It is a whole different world. Of course, there is an exception to the rule with true NBA fans at games, but they are a minority. And that is precisely why you can’t even put European and NBA fans in the same sentence when it comes to creating a wild atmosphere at a game.