John Amaechi fears NBA London game may not return for years if it goes to France

Washington Wizards and New York Nicks
The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 101-100 during last week's NBA London game at the O2 Arena

Former NBA star John Amaechi warns that if the yearly NBA London game transfers to Paris it might not return for years.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the game, held in London for nine years, could move to France from next year.

Amaechi believes the move would be symptomatic of basketball's "failure in leadership" in Britain.

"If the game goes to Paris, it will just be another excuse from British basketball that the NBA is causing them a problem," he told BBC Sport.

"It's been tremendous commitment to have a game in London for nine years. But we can't mistake the fact, that in terms of infrastructure, leadership, organisation and coaching, we lag behind the rest of Europe.

"If it goes to France they will want to maximise that opportunity and maybe they will think it's their turn for 10 years."

Basketball England said it would be "disappointed" to see the NBA game leave London.

It added: "It would remove some of the developmental opportunities we are able to deliver by having the coaching and playing talent in the city each year, but our other programmes such as Jr NBA will continue to thrive and be delivered with the same enthusiasm from both Basketball England and the NBA."

British basketball has been beset by problems in recent years - and political infighting in the last 12 months - leading to stinging criticism of how it is run from GB players and those tasked with sorting it out.

The sport lost its Olympic funding in 2014, and in July 2018 the Home Country Associations decided to strip the British Basketball Federation of its regulatory powers - a move criticised as "lacking in professional integrity" by outgoing BBF chair Ed Warner.

Amaechi, who played for Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz, says it will be a "tremendous shame" to lose the NBA game, which he called an "iconic moment" in British sport that "penetrates past the normal basketball media into the broader sentiment of the country".

But he said the sport was in such disarray he did not think the game moving to France would act as a wake-up call to basketball's hierarchy.

"British basketball doesn't need anything to facilitate their delusion that everything is OK," he said.

He added: "Is it a failure of basketball's leadership? Yes. Is it a failure of infrastructure? Yes. Is it a failure of government to understand what to fund? Yes. Is it a failure of government to fund those who will keep screwing it up continuously and egregiously? Yes.

"Young people in this country have been disadvantaged while certain people make money out of a cottage industry by making sure basketball stays small enough to drown in their bathtub."

Basketball England said in response: "Basketball England has undertaken a huge root-and-branch research-based project, the Basketball Development Model, to establish good practice in other Basketball Federations and in other successful sports, to help inform every aspect of our six-year strategy which was launched last September."

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