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featured/ Food/ Guest Posts

Where To Find Caribbean & African Food in Berlin

Fooooood glorrrrrious food! Food is one of the best home comforts we can think of. So, whether you’re a sister new to Berlin (check these first) or you’re a longer-term resident who’s feeling home sick, there’s nothing a bowl of curry goat can’t solve.
Traveling seems to be a rising interest in the younger generation of female black travelers – and we couldn’t be happier. We’re continually inspired and motivated to see more of the world after reading posts like this one.
But finding African and Caribbean foods abroad can be difficult. If you’re in Berlin though, don’t fear, we’ve got you covered. 😉
Here are some top places to get black made food where you are.

Where To Find Caribbean & African Food in Berlin

Caribbean Supermarkets


[Image:Black-Woman-With-Caribbean-Groceries]
Now for ease, we’ve divided these up into two different categories. There’s a big difference in Caribbean and African food. With that in mind we wanted to do them both justice and give them both equal coverage. Up first… Caribbean!
Frische Paradies
Location:
Hermann-Blankenstein-Str. 48, 10249 Berlin
Price:
€€€
Our thoughts:
We must say we were impressed with the sheer variety of food available in this shop. Therefore, we can completely appreciate it shows at #1 for Caribbean food in Berlin.

Apfelfragen

Location:
Goltzstr. 3, 10781 Berlin, Germany
Price:
€€
Our thoughts:
If cost is your main worry when shopping for food, then this may be the perfect shop for you. With a total 5-star rating we believe it’s one of the best out there.

African Supermarkets


[Image:African-Supermarket-In-Berlin]
Köpenicker Weinladen Max Hoch
Location:
Köpenicker Str. 8, 10997 Berlin, Germany, Kreuzberg
Price:
€€
Our thoughts:
Cheerfully cheap, tasty home-grown food. We’re dying for some Sadza too… And did we mention wine – so much wine! How could you resist this fantastic shop?

Alpha & Omega International Afro Shop

Location:
Weserstr. 3-4, 12047 Berlin
Price:

Our thoughts:
This independent African shop sells African produce alongside crafts, cosmetics and hair products. Whether you’re looking for fresh or canned goods to cook up an African storm, Alpha & Omega can help.

African Fast Food


[Image:Chef-In-An-African-Restaurant]
Khartoum – Kreuzberg, Wienerstr. 69, 10999 Berlin, Germany
Senegambia – Kreuzberg, Reichenbergerstr. 72, 10999 Berlin, Germany
Sahara – Neukölln, Reuterstr. 56, 12047 Berlin, Germany
This collection is priced up at €. We think these are the best of the best for African fast food in Berlin. Khartoum is our favorite for serving everything including an amazing range of vegan foods, if that’s your thing. Check them all out and choose your own favorite!

Caribbean Fast Food


[Image:Black-Woman-And-Friends-Enjoying-Restaurant-In-Berlin]
Merle’s Trinidad Cuisine – Kreuzberg, Yorckstr. 22, 10965 Berlin, Germany
Ya-Man – Tiergarten, Gotzkowskystre. 17, 10555 Berlin, Germany
Status: Currently drooling over the thought of macaroni cheese. Sadly, there two Caribbean fast-food joints are among the very few that we could find. There’s a calling for more so if entrepreneurial skills are in your repertoire then maybe you should consider it? Jerk chicken and fried plantain, please!

Conclusion


[Image:Woman-Reading-Menu-In-Caribbean-Restaurant-In-Berlin]
We hope we’ve heightened your spirits and ignited a little more hope in your bones for getting some tasty food that speaks to your roots. Berlin may be far from home, but the taste of home doesn’t have to be!
So, do you have anywhere else to suggest? Some restaurants maybe? Let us know. 🙂

featured/ Guest Posts

Five Reasons To Visit Berlin

Five reasons to visit Berlin

Spring is a great time to visit Berlin. It’s time when the weather in the German capital is great, and nightlife is returning to a normal rhythm. At this time the city is flooded with party-goers, electronic music fans, and travelers, fascinated by ancient history. After all, Berlin is a city of nightclubs with the best DJs and various museums with the richest archaeological collections. Here are five reasons why you should visit Berlin.

1) History

The earliest settlements in this region appeared about 60,000 years ago, and the city itself was founded at the end of the XII century. You can literally study European history when walking Berlin streets. The XVIII century is represented by the magnificent palace of Charlottenburg, Neue Wache, Zeughaus and the majestic Brandenburg Gate. The XIX century, with its industrial revolution and rapid population growth, left Berlin the Rotes Rathaus, the Reichstag building, and the Berlin cathedral. Many of the historical monuments were destroyed and restored in the XX century, the legacy of which includes the checkpoint Charlie, the wreckage of the Berlin Wall and the Monument to the Victims of the Holocaust.

2) The capital of entertainment

Berlin had bustling nightlife even before the war – a lot of variety shows and cabarets attracted not only Germans but also foreigners. The city regained its fame as the club capital of Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now the German capital has everything to attract party-goers: the Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and Prenzlauer-Berg districts have a lot of clubs with the best DJs. Particular attention should be paid to Berlin open-airs, for example, Tech Open Air, which is held every year.

3) Art and culture

Painting, sculpture, design, photography and fashion – all these you can find not only in Berlin museums but also in city streets. The Pergamon Museum may cost you a whole day, not to mention the Old National Gallery with its richest collection of paintings. Art lovers should check out the New National Gallery and the Berggruen Museum. Those who love modern art will also find something to see. For example, the part of the Berlin Wall turned into the famous East Side Gallery under the open sky.

4) Multicultural city

Berlin is one of the most variegated cities of the Old World. The center for cultural diversity is the Kreuzberg district. Twice a week (on Tuesdays and Fridays) on the Maybachufer embankment you can find the Turkish market with exotic street food. There is also a Jewish museum on Lindenstraße which tells the rich and tragic history of the Jewish community in Germany.

5) Gardens and parks

Berlin can be called a green city. Most of the central streets are decorated with rows of trees, and each palace has a well-kept garden. Besides, there are several large parks in the city: the huge Tiergarten, the secluded Treptower Park, as well as the Botanical Garden and the Zoo. Finally, on weekends the Berliners themselves like to relax on the lakes in the Wannsee district. It’s a perfect place for picnics.

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Kultur- und Infoveranstaltung zur Umbenennung der Wissmannstraße (Cultural and information event to rename the Wissmannstraße)

Ölln decolonize Berlin-Neuk

Cultural and information event to rename the Wissmannstraße

With performances by Him Noir and Zaida Horstmann, posts and symbolic renaming them with an ISD Berlin – Initiative of Black People in Germany , Berlin Postkolonial , Berlin Development Policy advice eV and decolonize Berlin!

Saturday, 18/03/2017 Wissmannstra SSE, corner Hasenheide
program
13:30 – Performance Zaida Horstmann
14:30 – Symbolic renaming
15:15 – Performance Him Noir
15:45 – Symbolic renaming

Against colonial racist street names!

Why rename? Hermann Wissmann contributed military expeditions significantly to the violent colonization of the Congo. As Reichskommissar he struck with the “Wissmann troop” 1888-1890 anti-colonial resistance of the coastal population in “German East Africa” (today Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) down. He prepared as a colonial governor significantly taxing the colonized before, in 1905, the trigger of the Maji Maji War was, lost their lives in the least 100,000 East African people.

He should not be honored with a street name for his crimes.

featured/ Guest Posts

Between Berghain orgies and unicorn onesies: The wonderful weirdness of moving to Berlin

Discloser- This is a guest post

Are you thinking about moving to Berlin? Have people told you about the magical attraction of this European capital? Are you excited but still a little uneducated on the matter of the way of living and finding a home here? Don’t panic- many of others before you were at the exact same
point and I would like to use my own such as some of my friends’ experience moving here to give you a little heads up.

I was born and raised in a small town in Franconia called Rothenburg ob der Tauber and finally moved to Berlin in October 2016. Growing up in a safe, quiet 12.000 inhabitant town, where everything seems to be fine, does not really prepare you for the move to Germany’s biggest city. In Rothenburg, people bury their dirt deep beneath the ground and only people inside the community know exactly who is sleeping with whom, whose parents are getting divorced, who spent some time inside for all kinds of reasons and who allegedly worked as a prostitute back in the days. As a tourist, you can easily get blended by the illusion of the medieval, romantic small town that is packed with gothic churches. No wonder Rothenburg’s younger generation wants to break out of this small bubble to have a look beyond the idyllic pensioners’ paradise that offers one nightclub that seems to have the same playlist for every Saturday night and rather get to know a better and more relevant perspective of the world and its diverse people. Berlin seems the perfect destination to get the most cultural input in terms of party, people and lifestyle, the big melting pot it is. So many people from within and outside the country move here every year which turned Berlin into this diverse paradise: every religion, language, ethnicity as well as mental disease is represented here. In contrast to the fairytale-like atmosphere in my hometown, it seems like in Berlin, the realness is less subtle. It definitely took me some time to adjust to the daily input of yet another crazy story or weird encounter.

The first thing I realised back in my teenage years, when I visited the city for the first time, was that everybody dresses and acts just as they like. There were no such things as fashion trends or at least in that parts of the city, where I went around. People wore their PJs, old jeans jackets and worn out sneakers. In terms of interacting, the Berliner Schnauze was the leading manner of communication: no frills, no fake or unnecessary small-talks, but rough and annoyed comments. It is totally common for people to freak out about the fact that the bus is late again, screaming and using every curse word the German language has to offer.

Going back to the last paragraph’s introduction about Berlin’s less subtle realness, I have to admit that this might be a bit misleading, because, in fact, it sometimes hits you right in the face. I remember watching a scene of “Sex and the City” in which the four women talk about the people who leave New York to go to the real world; then Samantha tells Carrie, after a homeless man showed her his penis, that it “doesn’t get any realer than that”. This seemed kind of exaggerated to me back then, but now, well, I have been out and about in Berlin. It turns out not all that glitters is gold. Let me give you a short example: What would you think if someone tells you about a club with a golden shower? Pretty fancy, huh? Well, the infamous Berghain owns such a shower and it does not have anything to do with getting cleaner- in fact, quite the opposite is true. It is a room that is only divided by a grate from the room above, in which people like to pee. Another example is my first visit to Kit Kat club where a good friend of mine dragged me in. There is a sauna, pool and many lightly clad people. This seemed odd and new to me, but hey, whatever makes people happy and does not affect others, right? I decided to have a look around to get the best all-round impression which I definitely did get: people having sex, people watching others having sex and finally people having sex on their own next to couples, on the dance floor, on couches…basically everywhere. At 9:30 in the morning my hunger for the new and weird was stilled and I was ready to go home and sleep. When we were leaving, people were still arriving, taking their clothes off and were ready to party. If there is one thing I love about Berlin it is the party culture. On a Sunday morning, if you have nothing better to do and feel like dancing: go ahead! Usually, there are a number of night clubs that are open non-stop from Friday to Monday.

Up to now, I might not have given you the most positive advertisement for this city thus far, but I, along with over 3.5 million other people, really love living here. The lifestyle of Berlin’s population is unique. The great thing is that everybody can just be themselves, no one gives a shit. Really. Wear your unicorn onesie, go ahead and take your pony on the train or cut some onions on the train, if you are running late to your cooking date. Enjoy the freedom of being weird. Another big plus for Berlin is that the cultural possibilities seem endless. With its unique history, Berlin provides so many cultural institutions such as museums and landmarks. Also, the nature around the city is beautiful. In summer, people flock to the river Spree or to lakes that are just outside the city to go swimming, enjoy a beer or a doobie. You can even hop on your rubber raft and flow down the lake and meet nice fellow boatswains along the way. During winter time there are cute little cafes and bars on every corner in Kreuzkölln, for example. The options to fill your spare time really seem endless.

So now, if you have read this essay this far and are still or now even more convinced to move here, let me give you a realistic preview of what your search for an apartment will look like. As I said, lots of people come here each year and want to be part of the vibrant city life. Therefore, finding a place to live is very hard and strenuous. First of all, you need to know where you want to live, send a lot of emails to landlords, then, if you are lucky enough to be invited to visit the apartment (along with 100 other people at the same time) you still need a lot of luck (or money) to be the one who receives the honor of moving in. But, don’t worry if you are one of the less well-heeled, there are options for you, too. For a shared flat, sometimes other essentials are requested. Here, having a steady income and a five-digit number on your bank account may not be the most important thing. There are listings for apartments, for which it is sufficient if you are young, female, single, attractive and willing to pay the monthly rent in another currency than Euros. Or, if you enjoy watching adult movies in company of a new buddy: here you go, move in with that creepy guy whose only requirement for the new flatmate is to watch porn with him every once in a while. What? That doesn’t sound like an attracting proposal to you? Ok, then, go and find something else, prude! I could go on and on about weird stories of flat-share listings, like the one flat share which occasionally throws foot fetishist parties and is looking for female flatmates that are OK with guys
feeling up their feet, but at the end, I want to give a valuable tip of how to get to an apartment in a non-creepy and easy way.

There is a website that will find you your perfect apartment: Wunderflats. The name speaks for itself: Here, you can find a fully furnished apartment for yourself; the prices contain all costs and essentials such as WiFi, a fully equipped kitchen or a washing machine. You don’t even have to be willing to throw foot fetishist parties, strictly live vegan or move in a nudist flat share. Just be prepared to get your background concerning your reason to move here, as well as your job position checked. If you have found an apartment that you like, send a request and one of Wunderflat’s booking team members will get in touch with you and walk you through the whole
process until the day you actually move in. And the best thing: all of this is free of charge for you! So, don’t be afraid! Come to Berlin and enjoy the world’s most exciting city!

Author-

Simona Kamleiter from Wunderflats

featured

Black Lives Matter – „Schwarzer Widerstand und Schwarze Realitäten“

This post is in English and German

Black Lives Matter – „Schwarzer Widerstand und Schwarze Realitäten“
This is Not a Moment, but a Movement.
26.02.2017 Einlass 17.30 Uhr
Start:18.00 Uhr – 21.00Uhr
Werkstatt der Kulturen, großer Saal, II Stock
powered by ISD – Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland

Filmpräsentation + Filmbesprechung „Generation Revolution“

Generation Revolution brings to screen the powerful story of a new generation of black and brown activists who are
changing the social and political landscape in the capital and beyond. This feature length documentary film follows an
exciting new breed of organisations as well as the young Londoners that are part of them. The London Black Revolutionaries,
or ‘Black Revs’, have a predilection for dramatic, raucous, direct action.
A Movement challenge the idea of the ‘Staid and Serious’ political activist and
The Black Dissidents are a new organisation intent on furthering the fight against oppression along the lines of race, class and gender.

Kein Moment, sondern eine Bewegung.
Das ist BlackLivesMatter. Die Bewegung begann 2012 mit der Benutzung des Hashtags #BlackLivesMatter in den Sozialen Medien nach dem Freispruch
des Mörders von Trayvon Martin und steht für ein wachsendes Bewusstsein Schwarzer Menschen, People of color und Marginalisierter Menschen für die
es keine echte Freiheit gibt, solange Schwarze Menschenleben ungeachtet der historischen Kämpfe ihrer Vorfahren
nicht wertgeschätzt werden. Die Bewegung setzt auf einen intersektionalen Ansatz und die weltweite Vernetzung. Alicia Garza, eine der Gründerinnen
sagt: „When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.“
In der Veranstaltung geht es um die Geschichte, die Gegenwart und Zukunft der Bewegung, nicht nur in den USA, sondern auch in Europa.

Programm:
26.02.2017 Einlass 17.30 Uhr
Start:18.00 Uhr – 21.00Uhr
Werkstatt der Kulturen, großer Saal, II Stock
Podium: Moderation Karen Taylor,
Sprecher/innen unter anderem:
Jessica de Abreu is an Black Dutch activist,
organizer and writer. She is a general coordinator
at European Network of People of African
Descent.
Modi Ntambwe Chair of RVDAGE-SVAV
Federation of African Associations of Flanders,
Board member of the CCAEB ONG-FED and
coordinator or the advocacy group within the
European Network for People of African Descent
– ENPAD.
Natasha Nkonde – Activist in Black Lives Matter
UK and Sisters Uncut. Regional Organiser
at Edge Fund. Bad immigrant, Black Feminist,
taking up space.
Kuchenga Shenjé – Writer and avid consumer
of all culture. She is a member of the Black
Lives Matter UK and Bent Bars Collective, writing
regularly to trans women „on the inside“.

Filmpräsentation + Filmbesprechung
„Generation Revolution“
Generation Revolution beschreibt die mitreißende Geschichte einer neuen Generation Schwarzer Aktivist_innen und Aktivist_innen
of Color, die für eine nachhaltige Veränderungen der politischen Landschaft in London und
darüberhinaus gesorgt haben. Der 60 minütige Film begleitet neue Formen von Organisationen und jungen Londoner Aktivist_innen.
„The Black Dissidents“ sind eine neue Organisation, deren Ziel es ist, gegen jedwede Form von Unterdrückung zu kämpfen, und das umschließt
den Kampf gegen Rassismus, Klassendenken und Geschlechterdiskriminierung.
Generation Revolution brings to screen the powerful story of a new generation of black
and brown activists who are changing the social and political landscape in the capital
and beyond. This feature-length documentary film follows an exciting new breed of
organisations as well as the young Londoners that are part of them.

Click Here for Flyer Pt.1

Click here for Flyer Pt. 2

featured/ Food/ Guest Posts

5 Places Expats Must Eat in Berlin

1. BurgerMeister
Germans are among the world’s most voracious eaters, and when it comes to meat, they make no exception. BurgerMeister, one of Berlin’s most popular burger houses stays true to this philosophy by serving nothing but burgers, burgers, MORE BURGERS. Oh, and chilli cheese fries.

Their single vegetarian option is the tofu burger but let’s be honest, an establishment such as BurgerMeister was not designed for vegetarian options.

2. Lemon Leaf
If you’re looking for something a bit more delicate on the gut (and on the taste buds for that matter) then Lemon Leaf’s delectable array of Indochinese dishes is sure to get your saliva glands working overtime.

Inside, the bright walls and oriental décor lend itself to a calm yet lively atmosphere, serving up the smell of eastern spices and a mix of speciality dishes from Thailand, Vietnam Laos & Cambodia, including a range of traditional curries and noodle dishes, with a range of vegetarian options available.

Courtesy of Lemon Leaf

3. Crackers
Maybe you’re into a hipper and happening kind of eatery. Y’know, where there’s awesome food, but also a bar and a DJ performing whilst you eat your dinner; kind of like a club-cum-restaurant but without the ravers then Crackers is going to be right up your straße.

With a delicious, traditional menu and a snazzy website to boot, Crackers looks to be every Berlin hipster’s watering hole and restaurant combined. They also serve some interesting cocktails such as their signature highball – ‘It’s crackers’, featuring a mix of watermelon, beetroot and Finsbury platinum gin. Delectable! Although if you happen to be on your lunch break and have to return to work, they also feature a virgin version on their juice menu.

Courtesy of Crackers

4.Ssam Korean Barbecue
Enough to make anybody jump on the nearest metrotram and head on over; Ssam Korean Barbecue is located near the Görlitzer Park in the heart of Kreuzberg and offers one of the best and most traditional Korean BBQ experiences in Berlin.

The interior features traditional Korean aesthetic with a contemporary twist, offering a simple yet elegant dining experience. Grills are built right into the tables allowing the BBQ to come straight to you! Pile up the plate with gourmet Korean BBQ and a healthy dose of Kimchi and you’re flying to flavourland!

Courtesy of Ssam Koren

5. Restaurant Richard
Somewhere between the concept of an upscale French restaurant and art gallery lies Restaurant Richard. Located in the Kreuzberg district, this fancy establishment offers fine art and fine dining all under one roof; with specially curated interior design elements and a several course meal.
This restaurant is fairly pricey, weighing in at around €64 for 4 courses. However, for the quality of the artwork and the French Haute-inspired menu, it could be one expat’s guilty treat.

Courtesy of Restaurant Richard


About the author:

This post was written by Alex, who has spent much time exploring the many culinary delights Europe has to offer. Alex works for Currency UK, who offer foreign exchange services to businesses, individuals, and expats worldwide.
If you’re moving abroad soon, take a look at their expat resources section for lots of handy tips and information for moving and living abroad!

featured/ random thoughts

My Thoughts on This Election/ The 2016 United States Election

I was asked to live blog for the election from Die Zietung, but I am no longer in Berlin. I still had an opinion on this election. It is hard not to given the constant barrage of news about the two major candidates that the Democratic and Republican parties are running this year. Both have high un-favorability ratings, and both will have major consequences going forward for not only the United States but the World.

Before moving to Berlin, I was not really into politics. I watched the news; I watched the Daily Show, and Bill Maher’s Real Time. I was the typical California liberal woman. I did not know much about our foreign policy. I had some experience with the domestic policy given I did major in Economics, and there is a lot of interesting history, but I had not yet read A People’s History of the United States, or even really heard of alternative parties. After the crash in 2008, when I was working for AIG, and Obama was about to be elected, I started to try to learn more about these elections. Occupy was around, but I never mustered up the courage to go down there to see what it was all about. Moving to Berlin completely changed my outlook on the world. Not only were these people talking about very liberal or progressive subjects, they were actually living in some cases. People recycled, people were active in their communities, and there were many demonstrations and protests. Although I never learned enough German to become fluent, I tried to follow what was going on in Berlin, and back at home. I started watching Democracy Now and going to demonstrations that ranged from Pro-Refugees issues to protesting Obama and his policies.

When I faced with coming back to the States, I was energized to be back and participate fully in the process. I learned more about our terrible foreign policies, our trade deals, and our decimation of privacy. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are disconnected from the decisions they make. I moved from California to Georgia. The vibe is different here in the Bible belt. There are no cans to recycle, most people are polarized in their political leanings, and many don’t seem to care about the wars we are waging in the Middle East. They know what their side tells them. They get their news from their side and only talk to people who agree with them. There seems to be no real concern about Climate Change, the corruption of our political systems, the amount of money we spend on defense, while people at home suffer. Most people do know, however, about the latest Kim Kardashian robbery, in great detail. Most of our energies are channeled into media gossip and reality TV.

Our elections are closed off to the average person to run. You basically have to raise a war chest of money just to compete. Third party candidates like Jill Stein go largely unnoticed. Candidates like Bernie Sanders, while still flawed are systematically eliminated. We have a woman candidate who is a war-hawk, and another candidate who by all accounts seems to be a liar. He has tapped into the anger, distrust, and frankly, racism of the Average White American. They have a right to be angry by the way, they have been hurt too by our trade policies. He blames our problems on rampant immigration, and corrupt politicians. I can agree on the last part. Washington is wholly owned by our corporations. Our media, news, and entertainment are run by only a few corporations who control the narrative. However, I do not feel that this man is the person who can lead us out of these problems. I am not sure if he thinks he is either. With so much money and corruption in our politics, it is hard to imagine working within the system to change anything.

There needs to be a change in the States, that’s for sure. We need to really be informed about the decisions we are making and how they may affect others. The longest war in our history drains our budget when we could be using that money for education and our crumbling infrastructure. We have to be aggressive in getting off the need to use fossil fuels as we seem to be in the midst of a 6th extinction. We have to get back to nature, and eating correctly, so we can manage our health, and implement a single payer program for our health care system. We have so much work to do. This year, as I am on my journey to balance and achieve the life that I want, I decided to vote with my conscience. I voted for the Green Party candidate, and down ballot, for the most progressive candidates, I could find. Being swayed by the lesser evil is no longer an option for me, I need real change. Unfortunately, we will probably elect Clinton. Trump would be a PR disaster for the States, and a nightmare to the corporations. The powers that be will not allow him to be President. But I believe we can hold Clinton’s feet to the fire, hopefully, through non-violent resistance, and continue on the path to real change.

My theme song for this election

Thank you for reading.

signature1

featured/ Uncategorized

How close is the EuroLeague basketball to the NBA?

On October 3, during the NBA preseason, EuroLeague club Real Madrid hosted Oklahoma City Thunder and won in a very exciting game 142-137 after overtime. During the Thunder’s visit to Europe Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid, talked to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and presented him a plan for Madrid to be included in Eastern Conference as NBA’s 31st team.

This is not the first time that the subject of Europe teams competing in NBA was discussed and certainly not the last. EuroLeague is constantly changing its structure and format in order to complement NBA. But the main question always was, and still is – can Europe teams be competitive in NBA, and if not, how big is the difference in quality between NBA and EuroLeague basketball?

Head to head

Let’s first take a look in the history of games played between Euro League and NBA teams. Since the Euro League started in 2000-2001 season there were 65 games, 41 in USA and Canada, and 24 in Europe. An important thing to mention is that they were all played under NBA rules, with 3 NBA referees when the game was played in USA and Canada, and 2 NBA and 1 Euro League referee when played in Europe. The outcome – NBA teams won on 52 occasions and Euro League teams won 13 times.

Now let’s put this score in perspective. Obviously, NBA teams were dominant overall, but there are some facts in favor of both sides that need to be considered. First, those were all friendly games played during NBA preseason. Europe teams, on the other hand, had already started their national competitions, so they were in full competitive rhythm.

In terms of rotation, both group of teams played with full squad in most of the cases. Although NBA coaches limited their stars minutes in some degree, they still usually played at least 25-30 minutes. 8 out from 13 wins for Euro League teams came in the last 6 years, while NBA teams won 20 games in the same period. It’s obvious that Europe teams have improved with time, so if we follow this trend we can expect more and more wins from them.

Talent base

With a population of 314 million, USA has base of players larger than any European country by far margin. But Europe as a whole has a population of 743 million, so in that regard Euro League can easily match USA with sources of basketball talent. Basketball is founded in USA and there is no doubt that they have the best school of basketball in the World, but the fact is that Europe’s school of basketball is at a very high level.

You can just look at the list of NBA players who started their career in Europe in the last 20 years, and you will have an elite group of players who had Hall of Fame NBA careers. Europe basketball has quality and basketball knowledge to produce world class talents and if EuroLeague continues to expand financially and commercially, it can become able to keep top talents in Europe and compete with NBA teams.

San Antonio Spurs are among the first NBA teams that started exploiting a huge basketball talent base in Europe and rest of the World. They began drafting top talents outside of USA and leaved them in Europe a couple of years to develop their game. When they estimate that the player is improved they bring him to organization as a developed player ready to compete in NBA. Manu Ginobili is a prime example of this practice.

Since then, this strategy is replicated throughout the NBA, so Euro League and other European competitions became some sort of development league for NBA, knowing that NBA teams have enough financial power and quality to take those players when needed.

Also, due to financial improvements that EuroLeague made since its foundation, a lot of American players are joining European clubs. EuroLeague has greater quality that NBA’s development league and it is financially stronger, so American players have a great opportunity to, playing in EuroLeague, develop their game and attract interest from NBA clubs, knowing that they closely scout talents in Europe.
The EuroLeague has a capacity to create and develop quality players, but the league cannot keep them for a long time due to the financial power of NBA. Therefore the next big challenge for the league is to gain financial power in order to keep their top talents in the league, improving its overall quality.

League structure

When the first season of EuroLeague started on October 16, 2000, it gathered 24 teams are divided in 4 groups of 6, with first 4 teams from each group advanced in elimination round in best of 5 series, and at the end best 4 played single elimination games in EuroLeague final four. The concept of final four has not changed ever since first season, but other than that, the league was constantly changing its structure. It went from 24 to 32 teams, second stage of the league also changed with top 16 teams competing in 2 new formed groups with top 8 competing in best of 5 series etc.
Also, the teams were qualifying for competition in the league through their national championships. Therefore the composition of teams in the league changed each year, depending on results in national championships.

In recent years EuroLeague owners came with idea of modeling the league by NBA. The concept of licensing tams emerged, meaning that EuroLeague grants certain clubs exclusive licenses for the competition, allowing them to play in EuroLeague every year regardless of their placement in their national competitions. The conditions for getting the license were defined as combination of financial ability, minimum seats number in home arena, distance to airports and availability of hotels for guest teams etc.

So the league became more exclusive, with the same group of teams competing each year. 2016-2017 season is another breakthrough in that regard. As of this season, EuroLeague has 16 teams competing in one regular season group (division) with a double round-robin. After regular season is finished, the first 8 teams start best-of-five playoff series, after which Final Four is played.

It is clear that this season’s league structure, aside of Final Four concept, replicates NBA’s conference competition, with 11 out of 16 teams carrying license to participate each year and other 5 qualifying through their national competitions. The final idea is to make closed exclusive league with 16 steady participants competing each year, making the league “European NBA division”.

Changing rules

Aside from competition structure changes to emulate NBA, EuroLeague also found very helpful that FIBA started changing rules of the game towards the NBA standards. In the last few years there were some significant steps made in that direction. 3-point line has moved from 6.25 meters up to 6.75 meters, coming close to NBA’s 7.24 meter margin. Also, FIBA changed trapezoidal-shaped lane design to rectangular, identical in both shape and size with NBA’s, with restricted area arc also introduced. Shot clock also went from 30 to 24 seconds.

The plan for Euroleague is to gradually continue harmonizing the rules between the leagues, and the next big step in that direction could be introducing defensive 3-second violation rule in EuroLeague basketball, which will make a huge difference in the way both offence and defense is played. This rule is the one that makes maybe the biggest gap between the NBA and European basketball.
With unlimited time for defensive players to spend in the lane, European teams are allowed to shrink the defense and play with strong help side, making it harder for teams to strongly rely on individual talents and athleticism of their star players. This rule makes probably the biggest gap between NBA’s individualism and Europe’s team oriented offence.

Finances

This is an obvious one. If EuroLeague wants to compete with NBA it must offer its players contracts comparable to NBA’s. And let’s take a quick look at where both leagues stand today in that regard. In the 2015-2016 EuroLeague season CSKA Moscow had the biggest club budget in the league which was around 37 million euros or about 40 million dollars; and it was the biggest budged in the league by a far margin.

For example, budget of Red Star Belgrade, who played CSKA in quarterfinals last season, has the budget of 5 million dollars. At the same time, salary cap in NBA was 70 million dollars. Important thing to mention with these figures is that NBA salary cap relates to amount of money that teams spend only for player’s salaries, while when speaking of EuroLeague team’s budget, the salaries are just one part of the equation. For example, only 1.5 million out of Red Star Belgrade’s 5 million budget is intended to player salaries, so the gap between the two leagues is clearly enormous.

Furthermore, If you look at top 50 player salaries in EuroLeague for 2015-2016 season, Rudy Fernandez leads the list with 2.8 million dollars salary, which is a “little” bit lower than Kobe Bryant’s 25 million salary from last season. It is pretty clear that EuroLeague is no match to NBA in this category, and as long as it stands like that, Europe’s best players will always lean towards the NBA. The question here is has the EuroLeague potential to come close to NBA’s financial standards.

Fan base and world-wide popularity

NBA is a global media giant. It has an enormous fan base all around the globe that is constantly getting larger in numbers. At the end of 2014-2015 season, the number of fans increased by 40% from one season before, making 811 million likes and followers on social networks overall. During that same season 30 NBA teams gathered total revenue of 5.18 billion dollars which is 200% increase from 2001-2002 season. The league is huge money making machinery and with expansion of online content and its world-wide availability the future is bright for NBA.

EuroLeague is still no match for NBA in terms of revenue and popularity, but there are some encouraging facts for them in this area. Since its foundation, the league is recording constant growth in both world-wide popularity and generated revenue, with some staggering improvements in these areas over the years. In 2014-2015 season EuroLeague had 22000 hours of broadcasting time, a 6110 % improvement from 2000-2001 season. In the same time period the league made 1090% improvement in accumulated audience number. It went from 15 to 73 broadcasters during that time, with 1116% increase of territorial coverage, from 18 to 201 countries word-wide. The total revenue of the league increased during this time by 360%. This is without any doubt impressive improvement, and if this trend of growth continues, as expected, EuroLeague could be competitive with NBA in this regard in the coming years.

Looking in the future

European basketball has a rich history, with several great schools of basketball producing top class talents (like Spain, France, and ex-Yugoslavian and ex-Soviet countries). But usually, when they develop, these talents end up in the NBA league. For now, that is the fact. EuroLeague teams cannot compete with NBA financially and the best players are still going across the Atlantic to play the best basketball. But there is a strong statement and desire from EuroLeague leaders to improve and become competitive with NBA, or even be part of NBA. Changing the league structure to emulate NBA, changing rules, growing world-wide popularity and financial strength of EuroLeague are clear signs of improvement. If this trend continues as expected, not that long in the future the time will come when EuroLeague could become competitive with, or even in some way integrated into NBA. In any case, the good thing for us as basketball fans is that the game is expanding globally, so there are very exciting times for basketball ahead of us. So enjoy it.

featured/ random thoughts

6 Habits I Picked up Living in Berlin

I have been back in the United States for 5 months now. I moved to a new State in a new region, and it has been interesting to say the least. I spent the last portion of my 20’s living in Berlin. It certainly had a profound impact on my very being. Many of the habits, I have taken with me. Some are good, and some are bad. I often have to remind myself, that I am no longer in Germany. Trust me, that is not hard, given that I moved to the South. It is like night and day in some cases. Humans are creatures of habit. That is how we have survived. I am no better than any other human in that case. It is tough to learn one thing, be uprooted to learn another, and now go back to the previous environment. I compiled a list of the habits I have formed and inadvertently taken with me back to the States.

1. Recycling everything– I am originally from the State of California. Growing up, we recycled in my home. My mother was insistent on it. When I moved to Berlin, I got my hippie wake up call, as I like to put it. Germans recycle far more than Americans do, which is a shame, because we really could affect real change if we did what the Germans do. I still place my wine bottles at the door, and other bottles. I forget that the grocery stores no longer have places to recycle my bottles, and that there aren’t specific trashcans dependent on the color and type of trash I have.

2. No small talk– In a region of the country where people pride themselves on being friendly, and very religious, I might add, I find it hard to cut my small talk down to not include absolutely everything that is on my mind at the moment. When someone asks me how my weekend was, I am expected to say: “It was fine,” or “It was good” and leave it at that. They don’t need to hear about my most recent excursions to Little Five Points, where I found the perfect item for my budding crystal collection. I realized, that in Berlin not to many people asked this question, without actually wanting to hear it all.

3. Drinking tap water (with NO ice)– The tap water in Georgia is NASTY. Now, that I think of it, the only good tap water I ever remember tasting in the States was in New York State. I tried to pull that here, and immediately was grossed out by the amount of chemicals I tasted. I ran to the store to get a gallon of water, and vowed never to drink it again. I am honestly afraid a filter won’t work either.

4. Using random German words– German is super efficient when it comes to conveying an emotion. Despite a heavy German population in the South. Many of these folks, never attempted to speak it. It’s useless to say words like “Achso” or “Genau” when no one really understands you. It’s tough to let them go, they are so efficient!

5. Carrying cash with me– I got into the habit of carrying cash in Berlin, because there were several establishments that simply didn’t take it. Here, everything can be paid with a card. I mean everything.. Car wash/bar/convenience store, parking lot.. Everything. I forgot about the convenience, but the German in me always thinks that I would rather not be tracked of all my purchases, and I still would rather pay cash.

6. Bringing my own bag to the supermarket– In California, this is so not a problem, because people have to pay for their own bag in some cases. I swear the look on the bag lady/guy’s face when I start packing my own bag’s is priceless. I wonder sometimes if they actually WANT to pack them. Just trying to do my part. I can’t believe that other people do not do it.

7. Time– I swear to god, Americans are really lax about time in some cases. I have been waiting for more than 5 minutes, and I get a text saying they will be 15 minutes late. I am fuming… why did you not just tell me you would be 20 minutes late in the first place? Why are you even late? I have to remember where I am sometimes. ‘Murica.

8. Love of Good Bread– I used to wonder what the deal was with the bread. My German ex or my friends always complained that the bread in the States tasted awful. They are SOOO right. I cannot stress enough that bread in the States is not in fact bread. Not sure what they are serving us. I have been going to deli in the back of the store for fresh bread at this point.

9. Food Quality– I had only been back to the States once in my entire time living in Germany. I decided to go back home, and eat a bunch of my favorite things. In N Out, Taco food trucks, just all around horrible food right. I am a vegetarian now, but it started only as a way to not get sick. After I returned, I had a horrible bout with food poisoning. I did some research, and discovered that the meat production standards are far different from those in Germany. Generally, anything out of the States tastes better. I can taste the chemicals on everything. Everything has too much sugar in it, and not enough actual flavor. I cook now mostly, or rarely go out. Even the juice tastes like chemicals.

I honestly hope to never lose these traits. I can definitely relax with the time issue, but I honestly feel Berlin made me a more aware person. I am happy for the experience. What about you? Any habits you developed while in Germany that you took back home with you?