Basketball may have been invented in America, but the United States is not the only country that loves watching slam dunks by LeBron James and logo three-pointers from Steph Curry.
For the last four decades, basketball’s popularity has increased across the globe, and an influx of players from all over the world has only increased viewership. By far, the biggest contribution of players in the NBA has come from the continent of Europe, where soccer is still king, but basketball is rapidly becoming the second most popular sport.
The last five NBA MVP awards have gone to an internationally born player, with two of those players, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic, hailing from Europe. The success of these players and their teams led to an important question: which NBA team is the most popular in Europe? Is it Giannis’ Milwaukee Bucks? Jokic’s reigning champion Denver Nuggets? LeBron’s Lakers or Curry’s Warriors?
Sports media company OhBets also wanted to know the answer. So in the grand tradition of super important global research, they decided to dig deep into the data that is the vast majority of Google searches in Europe to uncover the continent’s favorite NBA team. Forget about Brexit or the Eurovision Song Contest—this is the news that people really want to know!
According to the study, the Golden State Warriors are the kings of the European basketball castle, as the most favorite NBA team on the continent.
OhBets methodology was based on collecting Google searches in each European country for each team for every month over the past year. Is the methodology flawed? Perhaps. Would a poll in each country have been better? Probably, but the results are credible nonetheless.
The Golden State Warriors are a modern-day dynasty. They’ve won four NBA titles in the last nine years, and have appeared in six Finals over that same span. They have one of the best players in the world on their team in Steph Curry and, for a stretch of three years, had two of the best in Curry and Kevin Durant.
So it should come as no surprise that the Warriors were the most searched team in 12 European countries, including Italy, France, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
The Milwaukee Bucks finished a close second in the rankings as the most searched team in 11 European countries. For obvious reasons, Giannis’ home country of Greece searches for the Bucks more than any other NBA team, but Germany searched more for Milwaukee than “The Greek Freak’s” birthplace did.
The gold and silver medalists in this study make sense, but the bronze medalist surprised us. The Chicago Bulls, who have not won the NBA title since 1998, finished third in the study with eight countries searching for them more than any other NBA team. Some of those countries include Poland, Romania, and Hungary. Had this study been conducted 30 years ago, this result would not be as surprising, but clearly, Michael Jordan nostalgia still remains.
The Dallas Mavericks, whose best player is the charismatic Luka Doncic, finished fourth in the study, with seven countries searching for them. Doncic’s home country of Slovenia has a severe case of Mavericks’ fever, and Spain, where Doncic played for Real Madrid from 2015-18 also heavily searched the Mark Cuban-owned team.
Continuing down the list, the Denver Nuggets finished in fifth place, with Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro all searching for the reigning NBA Champions. Two-time NBA MVP, as well as the 2023 NBA Finals MVP, Nikola Jokic, is the clear-cut reason why the Nuggets are so popular in this region of Europe, as “The Joker” is Serbian-born and raised.
Rounding out the list is the Boston Celtics, who were the favorites in Ireland (must be the leprechaun mascot), and Turkey. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the most searched team in Finland, likely because current Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen used to play for the Cavaliers, and was born in the town of Vantaa. Finally, the small country of San Marino found love for the Philadelphia 76ers.
A spokesperson from OhBets chimed in on the findings, saying, “The NBA has never been more popular globally, and it’s interesting to see the contrasting interest in different teams in Europe, as well as the fact that there isn’t one team dominating the entire continent based on popularity.”
The NBA has been playing exhibition games in Europe since 1984, but has recently played a string of regular season games in Europe and Mexico. From 2011 to 2014, the NBA played an annual game in London, and between 2015 thru 2019, the association played a game each in Mexico City and London. Starting in January of 2020, the association changed the London game to Paris, where a total of two games have been played at Accor Arena, with the third scheduled for January 11, 2024 between the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
For fans of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the purple and gold were the second most searched team on Google in many of these European countries but were not the most searched team in any single country. Could LeBron James’ international interest be waning? Or perhaps the Lakers’ lack of a European player on their roster could be the reason? Regardless, the Lakers put the world on notice with Magic Johnson and the Showtime Era in the 1980s, and still remain popular today, but the NBA landscape is a lot more diverse now than it was then.
Basketball fever has spread across the globe, and with the 2023-24 season recently tipping off, it will be interesting to see the results of this study next summer once a new NBA champion is crowned. So whether you’re a Warriors worshipper or a Bucks buff, keep searching for your favorite NBA team on Google; you never know when your browser history might become a part of the next NBA fandom study.
Below are the full results of the study conducted by ohbets.com:
|#||Team||Number of countries where most popular|
|1||Golden State Warriors||12|
Results by country:
|Country||Favourite NBA team||Average monthly searches|
|Albania||Golden State Warriors||1200|
|Belgium||Golden State Warriors||7400|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Denver Nuggets||2400|
|Bulgaria||Golden State Warriors||1500|
|Czech Republic||Chicago Bulls||3400|
|France||Golden State Warriors||68000|
|Georgia||Golden State Warriors||1600|
|Italy||Golden State Warriors||77000|
|Lithuania||Golden State Warriors||1200|
|North Macedonia||Dallas Mavericks||1300|
|Norway||Golden State Warriors||2600|
|Portugal||Golden State Warriors||9700|
|San Marino||Philadelphia 76ers||10|
|Sweden||Golden State Warriors||4500|
|Ukraine||Golden State Warriors||1300|
|United Kingdom||Golden State Warriors||8400|
Source: NBC Los Angeles