Peja Stojakovic: Concerned by the tyranny of
distance [GALLO/GETTY]
New Orleans Hornets forward and Serbian Peja Stojakovic believes a mooted expansion of the NBA to include a five-team European division could be good for the game of basketball.

"It's interesting. The only thing that concerns me is the distance,'' Stojakovic said among the All-Star festivities.

"But everything else, I think there are cities and there are arenas that can really prove they are ready to be part of the NBA.''

There are other matters the league will have to explore, such as the willingness of Americans to play for teams based across the Atlantic.

Stojakovic has met a number of Americans who elected to play professionally in European leagues when the NBA didn't work out.

"When I spoke with them, they enjoyed it, especially in the good cities. I know guys who played in Greece, Italy and Spain. They had fun,'' Stojakovic said.

"But every time you're far away from home, family, friends, it's a tough adjustment.''

European crowds would also add another dynamic, such as the singing that football crowds are more known for.

The intensity of the crowd tends to be a bit different as well, Stojakovic said.

"People in Europe, they cheer more with passion and they can't sleep when the team loses,'' he said.

"They're kind of putting more pressure on the team and the players. ... People here, they come to the games, they support the team, they enjoy themselves. Here it's more based on entertainment for the fans and over there it's more straight basketball.

"They sing at some of the games, they do wild things, they throw things at you; (mobile) phones, empty bottles, coins. I think the NBA is going to make sure that doesn't happen if they go there."

Stojakovic will participate in the All-Star 3-point shooting contest.

Source: Agencies