One of the Top Basketball Powers in the World
Although basketball may not be the most widely played sport in Spain, it is hugely popular among its fans. There are perhaps two reasons for this: firstly, the Spanish play basketball to a high standard. At the recent Olympics, both the men's and women's teams took home the silver medal, and the men's team also placed second in the Paralympics. Secondly, unlike football, the majority of Spain's basketball fans actually play the sport, as opposed to merely spectating.
The way the game is played in Spain is very similar to the way it is played by the majority of FIBA nations. The top domestic league, the Liga ACB, is keenly followed and contested, consistently serving up thrilling action, and the same applies to the cup competition, the Copa del Rey. Furthermore, Spanish teams regularly compete in international championships such as the EuroLeague and the EuroCup.
The country's leading clubs are Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, who respectively play their home games at the Palacio de Deportes (also a popular music venue) and the Palau Blaugrana, so Madrid and Barcelona are ideal destinations for travellers looking to watch some b-ball during their time in Spain. Tickets, which tend to be substantially cheaper than for Spanish football matches, can be purchased on club websites or sometimes in person at ticket offices, while memorabilia is usually on sale before games, as well as year-round at club stores.
Though numerous Spanish basketball players in the past were hugely famous, such as Epi, who lit the Olympic torch at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, talented Spanish NBA stars have inspired many young people to dream of becoming basketball legends. These include the likes of Pau Gasol, a two-time NBA champion with the LA Lakers, his brother Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio. Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernández, two other Spanish basketball icons, have also graced the NBA.