When was the last time FIBA had anything to do with NBA matters? Practically never.
The NBA does everything it wants with no input from FIBA publicly until now, apparently.
FIBA, the International Basketball Federation has determined that Kenyon Martin is a free agent, owing nothing to any team from China. He does not have any contract obligations at all.
The International Federation of Basketball took the decision on Martin’s playing prospects because it has the ultimate responsibility for basketball’s international affairs, similar to FIFA, the International Federation of Soccer or Football as it is known in most parts around the world.
Up till now, FIBA has had a limited role in negotiating player transfers from leagues around the world to the NBA, but their role is enhanced now with the emergence of so many other leagues paying top salaries and higher level skilled NBA players going to those markets.
Mostly, FIBA is recognized for supplying the rules for the Olympics and for other international tournaments between countries.
FIBA plays with a different set of rules and different markings on the court. The courts have a key (from the free throw line in towards the baseline) that is trapezoid in shape.
Unlike MLS, the NBA chooses to play by its own American rules. These rules have worked fine for the NBA as it has reached more popularity with each passing year.
But, would the NBA adopt its rules to the FIBA rules if FIBA asked them to?
For FIFA, a player is ineligible to play in international soccer tournaments if they play in a club league that does not follow FIFA rules.
FIBA doesn’t have the same power in basketball that FIFA has in soccer. But, the Martin case shows that FIBA is flexing its muscle and will make other power plays in the near future.
The organization wants to have more influence on the American game because its power internationally would grow substantially if the NBA was willing to follow more often what it dictates.
FIBA’s role is changing and it may not be anymore just about player transfers or tournaments between countries.
FIBA is probably itching to get the NBA on board for a big-time international team/club tournament in which team champions from the different countries play each other like what FIFA organizes for Soccer.
This kind of high-profile international team/club tournament would make the organization rich beyond its wildest dreams and bring it the power it so desperately craves.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com