There was a time when Stern had dreams of a team or even a division in Europe, a first in American sports. He was determined to devise a way for a group of teams in London, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and Berlin to compete with the 30 stateside NBA teams and even have a real world championship series.

Regardless of how uncomfortable the idea made fans who believe 30 teams was enough — and regardless of how inconceivable it might be to have a team in a time zone six hours ahead of the Eastern US — Stern was going to add the London Abbeys to the NBA.

But that idea seems to have fizzled along with the international economy and the lack of NBA-worthy venues overseas. What Stern realized is that many of the arenas that house Euroleague teams are not up to NBA standards.

For example, the Ulker Sports Arena in Istanbul, a sparkling new venue that houses Fenerbahce Ulker and features an adjacent practice facility, fits only 13,000, which would make it the smallest arena in the NBA.

“I don’t think having a single team in Europe is practical,” Stern said last week in Milan before watching the Celtics take on Emporio Armani Milano. “I never have… “What I’ve said is if we’re going to have an NBA presence here in terms of the league, it should be five teams. It’s safe to say that there aren’t enough buildings, there aren’t adequate TV arrangements, we don’t have owners, and I’m not sure we could charge the prices that would be necessary. I don’t think our fans are that avid yet.”

– Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe