The Intercontinental Cup is a competition gathering the champion clubs from different FIBA continental confederations with the purpose to officially decide "the best team in the world." This tournament has known two historical stages, separated by a period of 26 years: a first phase, between 1966 and 1987, and a second phase, from 2013 on.
The original Intercontinental Cup—officially known as World Cup for Champion Clubs—is a defunct competition gathering the best clubs from the continental federations affiliated to FIBA (therefore excluding the professional NBA teams). The Intercontinental Cup was actually a tournament intended to "officially" decide the best club of the world, originally contended only by the champion teams of the two continents with higher basketball level: Europe and America. The first edition was celebrated in Madrid in January 1966, under the name "I Intercontinental Cup," with the participation of four teams: Ignis Varese (Italy), Corinthians (Brazil), Real Madrid (Spain) and Jamaco Saints (USA). In 1973, this competition adopted the name Intercontinental Cup "William Jones" to honor the Secretary General of FIBA. In 1971, the tournament was not held because the US Basketball Federation refused to organize it. In 1972, when the same organization problems arose, in order to overcome the dangerous void of two years without Intercontinental Cup, FIBA improvised a tournament for national squads (USA, USSR, Brazil and Poland) and included it in the competition history. In 1981, the Intercontinental Cup was extended for the first time to all five continents and renamed Club World Cup proper.
The last official edition of the "old" Intercontinental Cup was held in 1987. Between 1987 and 1999, the newly created McDonald's Championship, contested among different continental champions and a selected NBA team, replaced it as the "de facto" Club World Cup. Although there was an attempt in September 1996 to re-establish the Intercontinental Cup, with a best-of-3 playoff between the European champion (Panathinaïkós BC, from Greece) and its South American counterpart (Olimpia de Venado Tuerto, from Argentina), won by the former 2-1, this edition didn't have continuity. In October 2013, however, the efforts of Euroleague and FIBA Americas to re-establish this competition crystallized in the "new" Intercontinental Cup, with the participation of the champions of Europe and America (extended in future editions with representatives from Asia, Africa and Oceania).