Historically, soccer has been the undisputed sport of choice for most of the world to play and watch. With very few exceptions such as North America and a few cricket countries, the popularity of soccer has been basically without challenge. But in recent years, this dominance has been subject to serious competition.
The rise of basketball and its popularity has taken some experts by surprise. Originally confined to North America since its inception in Canada around a century ago, basketball is fast gaining a massive international following. Indeed, the NBA has been keen to capitalize on this trend, not only performing exhibition matches around the world, but also taking in players from popular markets.
With the rise in popularity of online streaming worldwide, the NBA has also jumped on the bandwagon, with its official streaming site now the premiere outlet where fans can stream NBA games for their viewing pleasure.
Unfortunately, not everything smells like roses. Even the NBA is not immune from the scourge that is geo-blocking. Far too often, fans in the United States and around the world look forward to watching their favorite team play a long-standing enemy team, only to find out that their market has been restricted from viewing the game live, thereby depriving fans from catching their favorite player or team at the time of their choosing.
How Does This Happen?
Many have wondered how this frustration came into being. Indeed, just about every major streaming service practices some degree of geographic discrimination, but it seems odd to many that the NBA would do the same seeing as they are the ones who own the rights to the games their players play in.
Sad to say, there is more to this than meets the eye. What the NBA usually does is it sells these broadcasting rights to cable or streaming networks for a handsome royalty. They will have the exclusive right to broadcast the game live and even the NBA will have to resign itself to posting the game at least three hours after the fact.
To make matters even more complicated, most of the networks that purchase these exclusive rights do so only for certain geographic locations. Most of these networks are not fully national in their broadcasting reach and therefore purchase regional exclusivity. What this means is that viewers outside this exclusive zone are still able to use their NBA league pass to watch the game live on the NBA site. Only those who fall within the zone’s exclusive domain get greatly inconvenienced by this.
VPNs to the Rescue
This is where VPNs come into play. The main features of a good VPN service will be more than sufficient in ensuring that netizens will be able to not only stream any NBA game they wish, but also stay out of trouble while doing so.
This is generally done in a two-step process. The first step is through the use of alternate IP addresses. Once you have installed your VPN service on your device and have it activated, simply go to the list of alternate IP addresses the VPN has to offer. A good VPN service will have a good variety of addresses to choose from in anticipation of customers looking to bypass geo-blocking.
Be sure to choose an IP address that falls outside the exclusive broadcasting zone of the local network. Once you have finalized and locked in your selection, the VPN will then reroute any and all exchanges by default through one of their servers located in the IP address location you chose.
What this will do is give the impression to anyone looking from the outside that you indeed reside where your alternate IP address says you reside. In fact, the internet will be so convinced that you indeed reside in your alternate IP address that you will be shown ads that are specific to that region.
For example, if you reside in the Midwest and choose an IP address somewhere in the Deep South, you might very well be shown ads of Waffle House even though you only have IHOP where you live. This is because the alternate IP address feature is so convincing that no one is the wiser to it.
The second step that makes sure you can consistently get away with this is the encryption protection feature. What this basically does is it covers every exchange going in and out of your device in a layer of high-quality encryption. The main purpose of this was to ensure that even if the exchanges were intercepted by unscrupulous hackers, the information would be so scrambled that their efforts would have been for nothing.
VPN`s Are Essential To Overcome The Geo-Blocking Hurdle
This feature is very important for the purposes of overcoming geo-blocking because of the disciplinary measures that NBA and most other streaming services have put in place. In most cases, the steaming services have some sort of firewall designed to catch people in the act of faking their IP address.
This is where the encryption software becomes so indispensable. The encrypting of all information going in and out of the protected device means that no one can decipher the information as long as it remains scrambled by the encryption program.
This means that no one knows exactly what you are up to simply because they cannot interpret anything. The most anyone can know about what you are doing is that you are using a lot of bandwidth, but they cannot accuse you of anything because they have no proof whatsoever.
The Most Important Basketball Matches To Bet On In 2020
With basketball and the NBA season set to restart on the 30th of July after a gap of more than 4 months, betting on the sport will now again be peaking. With that in mind, here is a set of 10 games that you need to think the most about putting your money on. This will be a list of important games to bet on, rather than important games to watch out for basketball action:
- Clippers vs Lakers, 30th July
The presence of the best player in basketball makes the odds lopsided in the Lakers’ favor. Their significantly superior record compared to the Clippers has given them the oddsmakers’ benefit of short odds on every remaining matchup. But betting on the Clippers in this game could turn out to be a really wise move.
Powered by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers can punch way above their weight and make you a killing on the +165 odds on offer.
- Celtics vs Bucks, 31st July
Normally, when the best team in basketball goes up against the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, the odds are supposed to be shorter. But Bet way has offered tempting odds on the Celtics in this game, giving a payout of +170 despite the fact that they have 3 players averaging 20 points per game.
While the Bucks, led by Giannis, have been in rude form throughout the season, the Celtics beat them early in the season by 12 points. Going with the Cs in this game will be a handy basketball gamble to make.
- Pacers vs Sixers, 1st August
The Sixes and the Pacers sit on exactly the same record (39-26). But the difference is that the Sixes are at full strength with the resumption of the basketball season, while the Pacers will miss Sabonis.
However, the line offered on Bet way of +195 on the Pacers is far too tempting for an avid gambler to pass up. You’d be well-advised to put your money on Pacers basketball for this game. Especially with the expected comeback of Victor Oladipo.
- Clippers vs Pelicans, 2nd August
The absence of Lou Williams due to a silly decision of going out to have chicken wings at Magic City will deplete the basketball roster of the Clippers for the first 3 games.
The Pelicans, on the other hand, will be at full strength, including the likely return of rookie sensation and #1 NBA draft pick in 2019 Zion Williamson. There are great chances that the Pelicans receive a +140 line or so and go on to win this basketball game.
- Clippers vs Suns, 5th August
The Clippers have gotten off to a sluggish start in the scrimmages, especially Kawhi Leonard. With the Phoenix Suns at full strength and Lou Williams likely to miss their first 3 games, there’s a good possibility that the Clippers will rest one of Leonard or George for this game.
The betting line will still be at least +140 in favor of the Suns, who will look to Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton to provide them with the scoring punch. A bet on the Suns wouldn’t go amiss on this game of basketball.
- Nuggets vs Trail Blazers, 7th August
The Nuggets are comfortably placed at 3rd in the Western Conference. They are likely to finish at that spot and have no basketball reasons to overexert their squad during the seeding games.
The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, sit at 9th in the Conference and will be aiming to make the playoffs. They are likely to receive a line of +1300 or better. Powered by Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Nurkic, the Blazers have a real shot at beating Denver in this game.
- Bucks vs Heat, 7th August
The Heat and the Bucks are separated by the significant margin of 12 games in the Eastern Conference. The two teams are well set to meet in playoff basketball given their status as the #4 and #1 seeds respectively.
The last time the Bucks played the Heat, Giannis had his worst scoring game of the season. The odds will definitely be quite short on the Bucks, so picking the Heat could prove to be a real steal on this one.
- Rockets vs Lakers, 7th August
The Rockets would be aiming to finish 5th in the Conference, tied as they are with the Thunder on a 40-24 record. Their faceoff with the Lakers would be a pivotal game of basketball in this path.
The Rockets are likely to receive a line of +130 or so for this game. They beat the Lakers in their last faceoff, after the Clint Capela trade. So going for a Rockets W for this game is solidly advisable on betting factors.
- Bucks vs Mavericks, 9th August
The Mavericks beat the Bucks in their first meeting of the season in Milwaukee, despite not having MVP candidate Luka Doncic in their ranks. Despite this, the odds line is likely to heavily favor the Bucks, to a tune of at least -450.
Betting on the Mavs, who’re likely to get a payoff of +150 or more, will be a handy pick. Basketball is a make-or-miss game, and the probability of the Mavs making their shots in this game seems pretty high given their size and versatility across the board.
- Nets vs Magic, 11th August
These two basketball teams are destined to meet each other twice in the bubble. While their first meeting will likely be quite competitive, by the time they meet the second time, the Magic will probably have secured 7th seed by a significant margin.
This would put the betting line in their favor, and the Magic would have the chance to rest its players before a possible playoff matchup repeat against the Raptors. Betting on the Nets in this game, for a prospective line of +140 or so, would be the way forward.
Popularity of Basketball in UK, is it the next Big Market?
When talking about the most popular sports in the UK, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear basketball being mentioned. However, the sport has gathered some momentum over the last five years or so and is steadily rising in both participation and spectator numbers.
With this growth in popularity comes the increase in bets placed on the sport. Go to any main bookmaker online and you won’t struggle to find basketball betting among the array of sports to choose from. So, is basketball the next big betting market in the UK? We take a look at how UK basketball has gotten to where it is today and where it could go in the future.
Basketball in the UK has had a rather checkered past. Established in 1987, the British Basketball League (BBL) saw rapid growth in the early 1990s, most likely due to the rising popularity of the NBA in the UK, with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan coming to prominence in the sport and inspiring a generation to get involved in the sport.
For the next decade, basketball in the UK saw healthy progression, with record attendances and commercial sponsorship deals to even rival football, with the likes of Budweiser, Peugeot and Playboy all attaching their brands to the new venture. It looked as though basketball was going to be the most popular pastime besides football betting in the UK – that was until the early 2000s.
The new millennium saw a change in fortunes. ITV Digital, which was set to become the biggest subscription based sports channel in the UK, collapsed. The BBL were due to receive more than £21 million pounds in TV revenue as a result of the deal, but missed out on the essential funding. This led to multiple BBL teams such as Essex Leopards, Birmingham Bullets and the Manchester Giants pulling out of the league, with some franchises folding completely under the financial strain.
It’s taken a long time for basketball in the UK to recover. After sell-out crowds at Wembley Arena in 2012 and 2014; the 2015 BBL play-off finals took place in front of record crowds at the 02 Arena in London. Since then, franchises have continued to develop their facilities and build the necessary foundations for the sport to once again rise to prominence in the UK. The hard work that the BBL and the franchises have put in over the last decade looks to be coming to fruition, as Leicester became the first British basketball participant in Europe for 11 years when they played in the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup in the 2018/19 season.
With basketball in the UK now looking back on the rise, it would be no surprise to see an increase in the amount of bets placed on the sport as a direct result. An indicator that online bookmakers are taking the sport seriously can be seen when looking at the amount of markets that are on offer. It’s not just match outright odds, you can now bet on handicap, or ‘spread’ markets, winning margin and total match points to name just a few.
A recent study by the UK Gambling Commission estimated more than £14 billion is spent on gambling in the UK. Maybe it’s time for basketball to get a bigger piece of that pie.
Liked “The Last Dance”? Try These Documentaries
Living through the biggest pandemic of the new millennium (so far, of course) is bad enough in itself… having to do so without live sports only makes it worse. The NBA is struggling to find a solution to the problems caused by the ongoing pandemic. The day the players step inside the court again is drawing close but sometimes it feels that it’s still way too far.
Reruns, YouTube videos, and documentaries like The Last Dance that can fill the void left by live sports in our souls. The latter is the perfect solution if you want to remember one of the greatest basketball teams in history, and while some may call it way too long (it has ten episodes filled with flashbacks and interviews, mostly focusing on Michael Jordan), others see it as the perfect way to pass the time until NBA finally resumes. And if it got you in the mood for more basketball documentaries, here are a few more to check out.
One & Done/Ben Simmons (Amazon Prime)
Born in Australia to a player at the Melbourne Tigers in Australia’s National Basketball League, Ben Simmons was destined to follow his father’s footsteps. He was torn, in turn, between basketball and his other passion, Australian rules football (a bit similar to rugby). He went with the first, though, and was pretty successful, too – at the age of 15, he was chosen to represent Australia at the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship. His dream was to play in the NBA, a dream that he achieved by first playing for the Montverde Academy, then with the NCAA Division 1 team LSU Tigers.
His road from his first games in Australia to becoming the number one overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers is depicted in the Showtime documentary “One & Done”, released in 2016.
Iverson (Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, Play Store, Microsoft Store)
Allen Iverson (aka AI or the Answer) played 14 years in the NBA. During his career, he collected 11 NBA All-Star positions, two All-Star MVP awards, and was the NBA’s most valuable player in 2001.
Iverson was born in 1975 to a 15-year-old single mom. In high school, he played football and basketball, earning The Associated Press High School Player of the Year award in both sports. At 17, he was involved in a brawl, arrested, and convicted – he received an unusually harsh sentence. Upon leaving Richard Milburn High School for at-risk students, Georgetown University head coach John Thompson was waiting for him with a full basketball scholarship.
Two seasons into his college basketball career, he was signed – first overall – by the Philadelphia 76ers, starting his successful career in the NBA.
A biopic about his life, directed by Zatella Beatty, was released in 2014.
Basketball: A Love Story (ESPNPlayer)
Award-winning director Dan Klores asked NBA and WNBA players, coaches, commissioners, both active and retired, what made them fall in love with basketball. The result: 62 “short stories” divided into ten two-hour episodes where Klores and the team talk to pretty much every major basketball personality (with the notable exception of Michael Jordan and Gregg Popovich).