December 18, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 112-106. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The 411 on Overseas Basketball: Is it worth it?

Popular opinion is wrong when it comes to playing basketball overseas. Playing overseas is not for has-been’s or never-was’s. The NBA is not the end all, be all when it comes to professional basketball. I use to think this way many years ago, until I matured and grew up. An overseas career can be quite lucrative. Research has shown that the average salary of an overseas basketball player ranges from $1,500 per month for a fifth division player to $20,000 per month for a first division player. The highest paid basketball players are properly trained and prepared for the European style of basketball play. Some highly valued basketball players in Europe can earn up to $50,000 per month. Highly valued basketball players refer to individuals who are properly trained and prepared. These players are usually starters. Let’s review the various international basketball leagues.

Apr 27, 2011; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) has his shot blocked by Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the second half of game five of the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs at the AT

Similar to the NBA, in overseas basketball the best teams possess a great deal of money. All leagues have competitive play at high levels.  Well-established players could be paid anything up to and beyond $100,000 for a season at almost any team in any of these leagues.

The breakdown of these leagues is originally the perspective from a basketball player who plays overseas. See www.playerexposure.com.

Spain ACB is the crème de la crème. This is the hot spot for international basketball. Three things to remember about this league are that the competition is great, the money is great and reliable and the people love basketball.

Italy Serie B also has a very high level of competition.  In Italy, teams tend to be unreliable.  A lot of people have left without receiving all of their salary. Also, not being paid on time is common.  If you get hurt, you are not guaranteed that you will get all of your salary or that the team will take care of you. This depends on the team and your status on the team.

France Pro A has a very good level of competition from the top down. France Pro A is known for paying players all of their salary, as well as paying basketball players on time.  This league will pay players their entire salary even if they sit out the entire season due to injury.

Germany Bundesliga has good competition and the pay is reliable. The problem with Germany Bundesliga is that the pay is not as secure as France in terms of getting paid on time, and getting paid if you are injured.

Spain LEB is Spain’s second division. The competition is at a very, high level. The pay is great. Overall, this division has a pretty good reputation. It is a great place to play.

Greece A1 used to be Europe’s number one league. Today, Greece A1 is on the decline due to being unreliable. For example, a player can sign for a lot of money but only see a portion of their earnings. It is rare that a team that pays every player on time. Despite losing its luster, Greece A1 still has three of the top teams in Europe.

Italy Serie B is Italy’s second division. This league has competition at a very, high level. Similar to Spain LEB, the pay is great. The downside to this league is that they resemble Greece A1, due to being unreliable.

Belgium D1 has a great deal of English speaking basketball players. The level of play is solid. Belgium D1 resembles France Pro A when it comes to paying players their salary. An injury does not interfere with a player earning their pay. Due to Belgium being relatively small in size, there are not any long road trips.

France Pro B resembles France Pro A. Reliable pay, and a good level of competition.

The lower level leagues consist of Denmark, Sweden, Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Norway, England, France D3, France D3 – National 1, France Division 3 – B1, Germany Division 2 – Bundesliga 2, Spain Division 3 – LEB 2, Holland, Portugal, Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, and Ireland.

The top heavy leagues reside in Russia, Yugoslavia, Israel, Poland, Lithuania, and Turkey. The top teams in each league have a great deal of money, and they pay their players well. Players who are on one of the lesser teams may experience hardships such as not receiving all of their salary and not receiving pay on time.

I advise any player who considers playing overseas to do their research on the various leagues and various teams within those leagues. The “Player Exposure” website seems to provide an in-depth view into playing overseas. There are other websites that focus on playing basketball overseas. I appreciated Chris from “Player Exposure” being straightforward and candid.

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