Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola, iPhone vs. Samsung, Madrid vs. Barcelona, and… Basketball vs. Football? That is how tight these sports are in popularity in Spain.
Could basketball beat football in Spain? There is a slight chance that the American sport is taken space in the hearts of many Spaniards.
If you didn’t know that Spain has basketball or wish to learn more, this article would give you every detail about basketball in Spain.
After reading this article, you might become a fan and increase the popularity of the sport versus football. Who knows! You might even be the cause of basketball becoming more important.
1. How popular is basketball in Spain?
When you think about popular sports in Spain, I’m sure the first sport that comes to mind is Soccer. But there are many others; in fact, basketball is the second most popular sport in Spain. Nowadays, 826.300 people practice this sport in our country.
Competitions are significant for Spanish basketball teams; they compete in the Euroleague, the Eurocap, the FIBA Europe, and the FIBA Europe Cup. But the Spanish teams also have a national domestic cup competition every year, called the Copa del Rey of Basketball; it’s played by the eight best teams in the Liga ACB.
The brothers Pau and Marc Gasol might be the most famous players in the basketball league in Spain. They are the role models for many Spaniards, but we will talk about them later, keep reading!
Which Spanish communities play the best basketball?
Many basketball players from the United States come to Spain to play basketball. They usually come here toward the end of their basketball career or when they haven’t been able to make it to the NBA.
They visit famous cities, Vitoria, Leon, Madrid, and Barcelona. They came to Spain due to this sport’s tremendous popularity; many Spanish basketball players have made it to the NBA.
2. When did basketball rise in Spain?
Basketball was first introduced in Spain in 1921 through the Piarist Father Eusebio Millán, who was in Cuba for ten years as a missionary, where he learned about this sport. Basketball was introduced to the island by the soldiers who invaded it in 1906.
Father Millán liked it so much that when he was back in Spain, he introduced this new sport in the Pious Schools of San Antón, in Barcelona.
At that time, Spain had a real passion for football, and it was strange for them that a team sport with a ball could be played with the hands. It was necessary to agree with the students to make them accept basketball. In 1922 Father Eusebio Millán managed to form the first Spanish basketball club: the Laietá Basket Club, the popular Layetano.
It was not until 1927 that an Argentinean basketball club came to Spain to play against the Spanish national team (which they defeated 16-50). This match marked a before and after in the history of basketball in Spain, switching to 5-on-5 play and on regulation-size courts.
Spanish people started looking for documentation; research was conducted to learn the techniques and tactics. At this time, basketball was beginning to stand out in many parts of the world.
3. Why is Spain’s Basketball team so successful?
Spain’s basketball team is very successful thanks to the coaches it has. The coaches must all be certified by the Spanish Basketball Federation.
They teach their players high levels of essential skill and game knowledge and rely less on their natural talent. Spanish players who make it to the top are tactically astute and very disciplined, making them some of the best basketball players.
The basketball player and Stanford top scorer, Dan Grunford, once said:
“I’ve never played with a Spanish guy I didn’t consider a great teammate. They all communicated well; they were coachable, willing to work together, believed in the team concept, and more than anything, we’re committed to winning over individual success.”
4. What is the basketball league called?
The top Spanish basketball league it’s the Liga ACB, also known as Liga Endesa (for sponsorship reasons). It’s considered the strongest Liga in Europe. The nation’s top franchises also play in the Euroleague, where they compete against the best teams on the continent.
5. What are the most successful Spanish basketball teams?
Check out the Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s best moves!
When talking about the most successful Spanish basketball teams, we have two teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona. I’m sure you’ve heard about these two spectacular teams if you are a basketball fan.
Tickets to basketball matches tend to be much cheaper, which may also contribute to the sport’s growing popularity!
Over the past few years, the NBA has toyed with capitalizing on its European popularity by creating a Europe-based NBA side.
- Real Madrid is by far the most successful club in Spanish basketball, with 35 league titles since the competition began in 1956. This is the only team in Spain that is close to this number. This team has had some of the greatest basketball players in the world, such as; Wayne Brabender, Fernando Martín, Arvydas Sabonis, Clifford Luyk, Juan Antonio Corbalán, and Alberto Herreros, among others.
- On the other hand, Barcelona is the second team with the most Spanish leagues, with a total of 18 titles. However, since the ACB League began to be played in 1984, things have become much more equal, and it is Barcelona dominates the podium with a slight advantage over Real Madrid.
Some of the best players in the world have worn the Barcelona jersey throughout history: Epi, Solozábal, Sibilio, Audie Norris, Pau Gasol, and Juan Carlos Navarro are just a few examples of historical players from the Palau Blaugrana.
6. Who is the most famous Spanish basketball player?
Doncic is a Slovenian basketball player; nowadays, he is a member of the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. His basketball career started when he was 13 years old; Real Madrid’s youth academy signed him. He played for Real Madrid youth academy for many years, and he began playing for Real Madrid professionally in 2015 until 2018. In 2015 he became the youngest Real Madrid Basketball player to debut in the ACB League at 16.
Doncic played 216 games for Real Madrid, where he won 7 titles and won the love of his fans.
In 2018 he jumped to the NBA as number 3 in the draft after leaving an indelible mark at Real Madrid, the club of his dreams. At the end of the season, he was named rookie of the year.
Pau Gasol Sáez is the older brother of Marc Gasol; he was born in Barcelona on July 6, 1980. Pau and Marc are some of the greatest players of Spanish basketball; let’s know why!
Pau Gasol joined Barcelona in the 1997-1998 season after playing for Cornellá, and he was there until 2001. With F.C., Barcelona won the ACB League and the Copa del Rey; total, he played 108 games. He was considered the best basketball player in Spain.
In 2001 he left FC Barcelona to go to the United States, where he signed for the NBA. And it was like this how his North American career started. He became the second Spanish athlete to play in this league, and that first season earned him the recognition of ‘Rookie of the Year’ (the first non-American player to win this award). He played 18 seasons in the NBA, where he was twice champion.
Pau Gasol has played with the Memphis Grizzlies (2001-2008), Los Angeles Lakers (2008-2014) Chicago Bulls (2014-2016), among many other teams. In 2021 he decided to go back to his home country.
He signed a contract until the end of the season with FC Barcelona. In this team, he was formed to prepare for his possible participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
On October 5, 2021, he announced his definitive retirement from sporting competition at 41.
Marc Gasol Sáez was born in Barcelona on January 29, 1985. He is the younger brother of Pau Gasol. Marc is a Spanish basketball player who plays for Bàsquet Girona in the ACB league. He played for FC Barcelona for three years, from 2003 to 2006, becoming the ACB champion in 2004.
He has been an NBA player for 13 consecutive seasons. Los Angeles Lakers selected him in the 2nd round of the 2007 NBA draft. On February 1, 2008, the Memphis Grizzlies acquired the player’s sports rights, and he signed a three-year contract with them, becoming the 9th Spanish player to sign for an NBA team. Marc left the NBA with a record of 990 games played.
Marc Gasol, since he left the Barcelona team, has played in; Akasvayu Girona (2006-2008), Memphis Grizzlies (2008-2019), Toronto Raptors (2019-2020), Los Angeles Lakers (2020-2021)
After leaving the NBA, in 2021, he began a second stage in his life, and he returned to Spain. There he returned to Bàsquet Girona, a team of which he is also founder and president since 2014.
The brothers Hernan Gomez are just like the Gasol brothers. They come from a family where basketball has been the sport par excellence. They are the sons of Margarita Geuer, a former European champion basketball player in 1993, and Guillermo Hernangómez, a former basketball player.
Guillermo Gustavo Hernangómez Geuer was born in Madrid, May 27, 1994. He is better known as Willy Hernangómez, at the moment, he is a Spanish basketball player who is a member of the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA.
But how did he start playing? He began playing basketball at the club close to his house, the Club Baloncesto Las Rozas. His brother, whom we will talk about now, did the same.
When he started his professional career, he played in different teams before playing in the NBA. These teams were; Real Madrid (2012-2013), Cjasol (1013-2014), Sevilla (2014-2015), Real Madrid (2015-2016)
In June 2015, he was selected in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft. Hours after the draft, his rights were transferred to the New York Knicks, where he played until 2018. He later played in Charlotte from 2018 to 2020. At the time, he has been playing in New Orleans for two years now, since 2020. With the NBA, he has played 306 games
Juan Alberto Hernangómez Geuer was born in Madrid on September 28, 1995; he is just a year younger than his brother. He is better known as Juancho Hernangómez, a Spanish basketball player who belongs to the Toronto Raptors of the NBA.
He was formed in the youth categories of Club Baloncesto Las Rozas, Real Madrid, CB Majadahonda, and Estudiantes, a team in which he made his debut in the ACB in the 2014-2015 season. In the 2015-16 season, he was elected the best young player of the ACB League.
In June 2016, he was chosen in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft in position 15 by the Denver Nuggets, a team with which he signed a two-year guaranteed contract until 2020. With the NBA. He has played 297 games.
He has played in more teams than his brother; Denver Nuggets (2016-2020), Sioux Falls Skyforce (2017), Minnesota Timberwolves (2020-2021), Boston Celtics (2021-2022), San Antonio Spurs (2022), Utah Jazz (2022) Toronto Raptors (2022- now)
José Manuel Calderón
José Manuel Calderón Borrallo was born in Badajoz on September 28, 1981; he is a Spanish former basketball player. He was part of the Spanish national team that won the 2006 Basketball World Cup in Japan and Eurobasket 2011.
He liked playing basketball a lot and started his professional career as a basketball player in 2001. He had an outstanding performance as a player; he was signed by CB Lucentum Alicante, who remained active from 1999 to 2001.
In 2002 he started playing for the Fuenlabrada team, and two years after, in 2005, he joined the Tornado Raptors as a playmaker from 2005 to 20013. He has been playing for great teams, such as; Cleveland Cavaliers (2017-2018) Los Angeles Lakers (2016-2017)
He was the fourth Spanish player to play in the NBA. On April 25, 2007, he became the first Spaniard to win a playoff game against the New Jersey Nets and held the record for the best free throw percentage in an NBA regular season, with a 98.1% shooting percentage (151/154) in the 2008-09 season.
He retired in 2019, and after his retirement, Jose continued to be involved in the NBA with a position in the players’ union. Until January 2022, when he became an advisor to the Cavs.
Juan Carlos Navarro
Juan Carlos Navarro was born in Sant Feliu de Llobregat, 1980. He started playing basketball when he was just a kid and joined FC Barcelona’s youth ranks at only 12 years old. He made his debut in 1997, becoming a first-team player at 19.
Since that moment, his performance has been exceptional, and he became one of the team’s most important players, culminating in 2003, the best season in our history.
He was also the protagonist of the second Euroleague in history, in the 2009/10 season, leading the team against Olympiacos BC after a true exhibition in the final, where he was chosen MVP of the Final Four.
Navarro is the top scorer and assists man in FC Barcelona’s history in the ACB League; he is the player with the most league titles in the competition and the top scorer in the Euroleague, among many other records. All these things make him the most important player in the history of the basketball section.
Navarro also performed excellently in one season with Pau Gasol’s Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA. In 2007 he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies for one season, the only one he played in the North American league.
Sergio Rodríguez, also known as Chacho, was born in Tenerife on June 12, 1986. He is a Spanish basketball player that currently plays for Real Madrid.
He started playing in the basketball team of his dad in the school “La Salle San Idelfonso.” It was not until 2003 that he was signed by Club Baloncesto Estudiantes (2003-2006). He made his debut that season in the ACB; he didnñt know that his life would change completely.
Chacho was selected in the NBA Draft in the 27th position by the Phoenix Suns, although they immediately traded his rights to the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2006 Sergio Rodríguez would cross the pond and go to the NBA.
He became the 9th Spanish player in history to be selected to play in the NBA. He was later traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. He was the 6th Spanish player to debut in an official NBA game in November 2006.
After many years of playing in the United States, he returned to Spain. Real Madrid was interested in him, and in July 2010, he signed a contract with the club. Sergio Rodríguez joined Real Madrid in the 2010-11 season. From 2010 to 2016, he became one of the leaders of a legendary team, which lived its most crucial moment when he was playing. He played in Real Madrid for six years, from 2010-2016, and played 429 games.
In 2016 he played in the NBA with the Sixers, and in 2017, he returned to Europe to continue winning titles with CSKA Moscow (2017-2019) and Olimpia Milan (2019-2002). Six years later, in 2022, Chacho returned to Real Madrid, where he continues playing.
Serge Jonas Ibaka Ngobila
Serge Jonas Ibaka Ngobila was born in the Congo on September 18, 1989. He is better known as Serge Ibaka; in 2011, he acquired Spanish nationality; he is one of the best Spanish players.
Ibaka currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA.
Serge’s first club was Avenir du Rair (2003-2005). In 2006, he played on loan at Interclub Brazzaville, one of the most influential teams in the country, which participated in the FIBA Africa Clubs Champions Cup, the top African club competition, in which he was chosen as the best center of the competition while still a junior.
In 2006 he came to Spain and started playing in the Club Bàsquet L’Hospitalet, being part of the junior team, with which he was proclaimed champion of Catalonia in the category.
He was selected 24th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by Seattle Supersonics, becoming the first player from the Republic of Congo to be set in the draft. But he finally reached an agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder, heir of the Sonics’ league rights, to sign with Ricoh Manresa of the ACB League for three seasons,
Many years after, in February of 2017, Ibaka was traded to the Toronto Raptors.
In the summer of 2011, Ibaka became a citizen of Spain, and he was selected to be part of the Spanish National team. In consecutive summers, Spain won the gold medal at the 2011 European Championship in Lithuania and the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In July 2017, as a free agent, he chose to stay in Canada, signing a 3-year contract with the Raptors. At this moment, Ibaka plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ibaka has not forgotten his roots and seeks to use his platform as an NBA star to better his home country and the world. He is a UNICEF ambassador in the Congo.
If you want to know more about basketball players in Spain, head to the link below!
The 8 Outstanding Basketball Players Made in Spain
So, are you a fan yet? After reading all this, you must know every detail of Spanish basketball’s popularity, history, teams, competitions, and, most important, players.