Soccer Vs Basketball – Key Differences & Similarities (2022)

At first glance, soccer and basketball are complete opposites.

Despite both sports being played with a ball, the similarities pretty much stop there. 

Jerseys versus vests. 

Five players on a basketball team. Eleven in a soccer team.

A tiny court versus a lengthy soccer pitch.

Hardwood compared to grass.

Net. Goal.

Hands. Feet.

You see?

They couldn’t be more different. And yet if an NBA fan is looking for another fix of sport – they could do much worse than following soccer.

Let us tell you why.

Fast-Paced Fun For All

Let’s look at the competition. 

The MLB hits the high notes, sure. There are some real memories to be made and thrills to spill.

But a basketball fan is used to constant action. To see the ball in possession go back and forth toward each teams net, constantly in flux. The ball being treasured and passed quickly, but always something to watch. The guard desperately trying to blanket a potential shooting opportunity. The last-ditch run to set up a dunk. 

It’s fast and it’ll give you a neck ache, because you’ll be snapping your head back and forth.

The same can’t be said for baseball. An average innings takes around twenty minutes. There are nine of them. And then there are all the pauses in between. 

If you go to a baseball match, the environment is brilliant, but it’s almost like an entire day lost.

Whereas in basketball, a days worth of action is packed into a forty-eight minute game, divided into four, twelve minute quarters. 

OK, let’s give NFL a try.

The biggest game in America is inarguably the Superbowl. The whole nation tunes in, tickets are scarcer than a trustworthy used car salesman and the victor is bathed in adulation.

It certainly raises the heart rate higher than baseball. But the game is broken down into passages of play – in between there are t-shirt cannons and lots of music to keep the crowd hyped, but they will stay hyped for the next passage.

Which lasts about five seconds.

Then the teams will reorganise again.

Five minutes passes, followed by four seconds of play.

And repeat.

If the game were allowed to flow a bit more seamlessly, this game would be electric.

But in comparison to the frenetic action of the NBA, the NFL doesn’t quite match up.

And that is where soccer is the perfect match.

A ninety minute game is divided into two halves. During those halves, the ball is in perpetual motion unless kicked out of play. That leads to a delay of seconds. A player gets fouled? Perhaps a minute’s delay at most – which then leads to a high-stakes, dead-ball delivery which pays the spectator for waiting with some exciting moments. It is constant. It is a whirlwind of activity and even if there are zero goals, because the game is always in full flow, it increases the chance for some drama of some sort. A sending off. Goalmouth frenzies, you name it. 

The highly paid players put on a show for those ninety minutes. 

And let’s not forget the superstars themselves – sometimes it’s part of the reason we watch soccer…

Also read: How To Deflate A Soccer Ball Without A Needle

All of The Lights

Yep, everyone knows Tom Brady. But then again, has Brady starred in a sports film with cartoon stars?

The NBA simply makes superstars. And it is very much aligned with soccer. Soccer stars are constantly bathed in the spotlight. We know who they date, where they eat, what they drive. The same goes for the NBA heavyweights. LeBron. Durrant. Antetokounmpo. Curry. Harden.

They are the heroes of a generation. They put themselves out there to be an example of what can be achieved. And kids love them. As do the fans.

And soccer has this in droves. Ronaldo. Messi. Mbappe. Lewandowski. Salah. Players who are followed no matter where they go. Who command salaries that would make most blush. Players who make clubs fork out ridiculous sums of money in the form of transfers.

Of course, the MLB and NFL have superstars too – but in terms of worldwide appeal and headlines?

The likes of LeBron and Cristiano Ronaldo are leagues ahead.

There’s another similarity too.

Go For Height?

The NBA is filled with players who are tall. That is common knowledge. It makes it easier to reach the hoop and therefore, score. Defenders need to be tall therefore too, otherwise their attempts to steal the ball would be pretty laughable.

So the competition is filled with giants.

And soccer has more than a few tall players. But normally in specific positions. Take a striker for instance. If they have a height advantage, they can latch onto aerial balls and make the most of them. 

And if they are defenders, they can defend the aerial bombardment more effectively.

The average height in the NBA is a preposterous six feet and six inches. And yet, this is the lowest average in the NBA for the last 41 years.

In soccer, the average height is different for each position, with midfielders being the shortest at around five feet eleven. But soccer do also give plenty of opportunity to players of smaller stature. In fact, if anything, soccer is actually using players with lower centres of gravity to dictate play, with soccer pioneers Pep Guardiola, Zinedine Zidane and a host of other club managers in using shorter players who rely more on technical ability.

One thing that can’t be argued though, is the cash that flows through soccer and basketball.

Also read: Soccer Extra Time – Explained

Money Makes The Ball Go Round

If soccer and basketball have the biggest names, it of course makes sense that the money that is involved to pay these players is higher than anywhere else.

In the NBA, the average salary is around $8million. 

In the NFL, the average salary is $860,000.

In the Premier League, the average salary is around £2.6million. Quite a large difference, but when you compare the megastar salaries, they are both reaching for the skies.

The highest salaries in the NBA are;

Rank   Player                       Salary

1. Stephen Curry $45,780,966

2. James Harden $44,310,840

3. John Wall           $44,310,840

In the Premier League, the top 3 salaries are;

Rank  Player                                                                 Annual Salary

1. Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo, Forward           £26,520,000

2. De Bruyne Kevin De Bruyne, Midfielder           £20,800,000

3. De Gea David De Gea, Goalkeeper           £19,500,000

The top salary in soccer overall though, makes for interesting reading. It is Argentine superstar Lionel Messi. Now playing for oil-backed Paris Saint Germain, Messi commands a cool approximate figure of $97million.

That’ll get a few Lamborghini’s.

So, it’s clear that soccer and the NBA have their differences and their similarities. But for fans, they are looking for parallels in the aspects of the sport they enjoy.

So, we come back to speed of the game.

The NBA is quicker and with less pauses in each game overall than the NFL and the MLB. It is hearts-in-mouth action for more time, without the let-up.

And soccer is the same.

Despite the match officials doing their best to intervene and insert themselves into the limelight – and soccer players themselves sometimes doing their utmost to earn an acting Oscar for best acting in a tumble to the turf – soccer is still far and away the best match for NBA fans looking for a fast fix in another sport.

Also read: How To Improve Your Soccer Confidence?

Let’s Look At The Stats

On average, an NBA game does take sometimes up to two hours to complete, despite their being only 48 minutes of play.

But the NFL has on average a huge amount of downtime in between passages of play – around a massive two hours.

Whereas a Premier League game has around three to four minutes of stoppage time at the end of each half – and around five to ten minutes of stoppages in the game itself. Add on the fifteen minute interval and it still gets nowhere near gridiron in terms of time.

If you’re looking for a sport that has more action per minute than any other? Soccer is your best bet. 

And for NBA fans?

Get your superstar and bling fix – as well as drama unfolding during matches – with soccer.

You won’t regret it.

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