Where Is Basketball Most Popular? Top 10 Countries!

Who would have thought that a game invented to keep athletes fit during the winter months would spread all across the world, right?

Canadian James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, surely didn’t think in his wildest dream it would reach the level of popularity it has today.

Today it’s the third-most played sport in the world, only behind volleyball and football (or soccer as some countries call it).

But where is basketball most popular?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at where this game is one of the most favorite sports!

10. Lithuania

Lithuania has one of the best national basketball teams in the world, even though it’s just a small country with about 2.8 million inhabitants. It’s no surprise then that it’s the most popular sport in this country!

A remarkable fact about basketball in Lithuania is that during the Soviet Era, the national basketball team of the USSR often consisted of a lot of Lithuanian-born players. One of the main reasons that the game is so popular is the early successes in European basketball, being the European Champions in both 1937 and 1939.

where is basketball the most popular Lithuania
Lithuania basketball team / Source

9. Greece

Want to experience some of the most amazing basketball atmospheres in the world? Then you definitely have to go and watch a game of a popular Greek basketball team (and there are plenty). Often rivaling the atmosphere in football stadiums, this can be quite explosive!

The sport really became popular in Greece after the Greek National Team won the European Cup in the year 1987 in their home country. Ever since the sport’s popularity has grown exponentially and the Greek National Team, as well as the club teams, are a force to reckon with in all European competitions.

Greece basketball
Greek basketball supporters / Tuomas Vitikainen / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

8. Serbia

Serbia is another small country in Eastern Europe that has a very strong basketball reputation in European competitions. This makes it one of the most popular sports in the country, even though a national league was only formed in the year 2006.

They do have a long history of basketball though as part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a country that won numerous European Championships. The atmosphere in Serbian basketball arenas is very similar to those in football stadiums and can definitely rival those of Greek arenas!

Serbia basketball
Serbia national team / Bryn / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

7. Russia

Basketball isn’t the most popular sport in the country, but since Russia is so big, there are still a lot of basketball fans in the country. The Russian basketball team has built on the successes during the Soviet Era and

The Russian basketball league is also a very strong one in Europe as it also consists of teams of neighboring countries such as Belarus, Estonia, Kazachstan, and Poland.

Russia basketball
Russia basketball team / Source

6. China

The Chinese basketball team is the dominant force in Asian basketball, resulting in making it the most popular sport in the country. And that means something as China is the biggest country in the world based on population!

The Chinese nationals who made it to the NBA seriously made the game more popular, including the most famous player in Chinese history Yao Ming, the first player in history to score an average of 20+10 in his freshmen season!

China basketball
China basketball team / Source

5. Spain

There’s no way that any sport will stand up and become the most popular sport except for football. That being said, basketball has gained a lot of popularity and is firmly the second-most popular sport in Spain.

Just like the football teams, the Spanish basketball teams are among the best in Europe and often go far in European competitions. The same applies to the Spanish national team, which is also among the best in the world.

Spain basketball

4. Argentina

Just as in Spain, there is no way that any sport will beat football in terms of popularity. It’s simply a religion in Argentina, and the same kind of applies to basketball, albeit on a smaller scale.

Argentina has one of the best national teams in the world and on a good day is capable of beating the USA National team, something they achieved in 2002 during the FIBA World Cup.

Where is basketball most popular argentina
Argentina basketball game / Source

3. Canada

Canada is located just north of the United States and one of their best teams competes in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors. The sport is played all-year-round and there are several professional basketball leagues in the country.

The inventor of basketball was also a Canadian so this gives an extra dimension to the sport’s popularity in the country, as well as the fact that numerous Canadians play in the NBA.

canada basketball
Canada playing against China / Source

2. Philippines

Basketball is without a doubt the most popular sport in the Philippines. All around the country you can find basketball courts and see people play the game. It was first introduced in the country by American teachers in the early 20th century.

This simply means that the sport has a long history in the country as it’s been played for over a century. Today, the NBA is extremely popular in the Philippines as many people tune in to watch the games.

philippines basketball
Philippines basketball team / Source

1. United States

The sport was invented in the United States and it was the first country where the sport spread like wildfire. It’s no surprise then that basketball is one of the most popular sports in the United States.

On top of that, it’s the home of the most popular basketball competition in the world, the NBA. All the best basketball players in the world play in this competition and every good player aspires to join an NBA team to play the game at the highest level!

United States basketball