Tuesday, 10 August 2010

NBA heads at the O2 Arena to drum up support

The NBA is to bring basketball to the O2 Arena for the forthcoming season with confirmation that the New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors will play back to back Atlantic Division games on March 4 and 5.

“In Europe the staging of our first regular season games is a milestone for the NBA and the ongoing development of basketball in the region,” said NBA commissioner Dave Stern. “We are fulfilling our commitment to schedule a regular season game in the UK prior to the 2012 Olympics – a natural progression given the overwhelming response to the many friendlies we have played to sold out crowds over the years.”
“This, to us, is in the context of giving as much support as we can to the sport of basketball for the 2012 Olympics,” continued Stern. “Europe to us is second only to China as a potential revenue source.”
Where the knockout stages will be O2 of the 2012 basketball competition will be staged the quarter finals onwards and has already proved an outstanding venue for the last four NBA Live exhibition games and the Great Britain national team during various European qualifying matches. It will host this year’s NBA live fixture in October, Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers the reigning NBA champions, taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Nets roster recently features NBA All Star Devin Harris, the number three overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft in Derrick Favors and centre Brook Lopez, who earned a place on the T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2009. The team currently came under the ownership of Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov and has since named Avery Johnson the 2005-06 NBA Coach of the Year and an NBA champion as a player with the San Antonio Spurs as its new head coach.
The Raptors meanwhile would expect to feature a number of top European players including Italy’s Andrea Bargnani – the first-ever European No.1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, in 2006 – and Marco Belinelli; Jose Calderon a guard with European and World champions Spain and Linas Kleiza of Lithuania. Head Coach Jay Triano — who became the first NBA coach born and trained in Canada when he served as an assistant coach for the Raptors during the 2002-03 season — will lead Toronto.

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