Hang Time Without Borders

LONDON – The fleece jacket with the NBA.com logo was a dead giveaway.

Or maybe it was the red, white and blue skull-cap with “ATL” splashed across the forehead that tipped him off.

“You here for the big game?” the baby-faced kid said to me, not realizing I was lost and in need of someone, anyone here in this massive and historic city, to point me in the direction of my hotel.

“Yes sir, Nets and Raptors doing the deed twice this week at the 02 Arena,” I shot back. “You must be a big NBA fan to find me like this. I knew there were NBA fans over here.”

Look at that. Mere hours after crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the trip I like to call Hang Time Without Borders, my faith in the global reach of the game was justified by a kind stranger willing to show me the way to my hotel in Canary Wharf, in London’s business district.

Only he was no ordinary kid. He was a bell hop at the hotel and spotted my get up and knew instantly where I was headed. And the big game he spoke of had nothing to do with the Nets and Raptors. Chelsea and Manchester United had a game last night at Chelsea’s home stadium.

“This is a futbol country, or as you say in the states, soccer,” he said with a smile. “You have heard of Didier Drogba? Frankie Lampard? Those are my guys. I like basketball all right, but the biggest game around here is Chelsea against Man-U. And I’m a big Chelsea fan. I have to tell you, the NBA has some work to do over here. There just aren’t as many fans here as you are used to in the States.”

That’s why I’m here, my man. This is like the basketball crusades. A mission that the NBA began years ago with routine stops in Europe and one that will be realized here in the United Kingdom specifically in 2012, when the Olympics will be held here and the world’s greatest basketball stars from the NBA and around the globe will converge on this city like the plague.

(Sorry for the medieval reference, but you try reading up on the history of this place and not diving into character.)

Some things just get lost in translation from Atlanta to London, from the new world to the old world, from round ball to futlbol. (I’m still trying to figure out what you can buy with 10 pence. How anyone is supposed to get clean without a face towel in the bathroom is beyond me.)

I went from the plane, to the train, to the tube (not to be mistaken with the “loo” here, a simple mistake I made trying to find my way from the airport to the city that cracked up the guy at the train station early Tuesday morning) and finally to a sleek catamaran on the Thames River — all done representing the game we love here at the hideout — and I still couldn’t win any favor with the locals.

“You must be a tourist,” he said.

“What gave me away, the camera, the NBA Finals backpack or the look on my face (jaw constantly on the floor)?” I said while taking in a few sights on my first trip here.

“Nope. It’s your accent,” he said. “You talk funny.”

My skin is thick after a year and half of getting beaten up here at the hideout. I can take being the punch line of a few jokes. But I suspect I’ll get the last laugh Friday and Saturday, when massive crowds show up to see the Nets and Raptors duke it out.

I understand they’re not exactly the Lakers and Celtics. But Deron Williams is here, courtesy of that trade deadline deal that sent him from Utah to New Jersey in what was arguably the most surprising transaction of this NBA season. No team embodies the NBA’s global spirit better than the Raptors, with more than a third of their roster being products of the league’s long-running international invasion. Alexis Ajinca (France), Solomon Alabi (Nigeria), Leandro Barbosa (Brazil), Andrea Bargnani (Italy), Jose Calderon (Spain) and Linas Kleiza (Lithuania) can give their American teammates pointers this week on how to fend for yourself in a foreign land.

Sure, the NBA has been here before.

But this is my first crusade.

And it doesn’t matter to me that there has been nary a mention of this weekend’s games on the Sky News sports report or there were just 83 words in Tuesday’s Evening Standard about the games, most of it chiding D-Will for being 0-3 with the Nets since the trade.

I don’t plan on leaving here without converting at least a few of the natives to my side, starting with the boys at the bell stand … or whatever it’s called around here!

(Something tells me D-Will and the rest of the Nets and Raptors are ready join this crusade as well.)

94 Comments

  1. crushing machine…

    […]Hang Time Without Borders « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog[…]…

  2. FRL says:

    It’ll be cool for franchises to be in Europe or Asia or maybe even Africa (Lol Just Kidding)

  3. dr h says:

    British Basketball rant:
    theres just not the right coaching at grass roots level to get more players to a good standard at a young enough age for them to go stateside and give their game a chance. sure, theres a whole lot of talent in the UK if you get to U16 / U18 national league games but for every 100 kids you send to high school only a few will get a spot on a D-1 bench let alone make an impact and have the slimmest chance of making the NBA. With that said, we just need to get more kids into the sport at a younger age, right?
    Quite hard to do when theres no desire for it to be taken seriously at schools. Most kids dont touch a basketball till theyre in year (grade) 7 and even then the likelihood is its being taught by some meathead rugby coach whos knowledge of the sport ends at the lay-up. Contrast this with the states – kids are doing 2 ball drills when theyre 7 or 8 years old. Theres a lot of old school english basketball ‘minds’ that teach kids the wrong stuff. Refs at most levels dont get it right. I could go on forever baby! Bottom line is there is so much potential in our cities. I honestly believe that we could churn out an NBA calibre player a year, theres just not enough money pumped into the sport at ANY level, and that wont change.
    It says a lot about the situation here that to push yourself to reach your potential you have to leave your country!

    • PippsTheBest says:

      Amen brother! You really have hit the nail right on the head here. I was playing since I was in year (grade) 5 but only because a mate of mine introduced me to the sport because his Dad played at an amatuer level. I’ve since played for Buckinghamshire County, a local amateur team run by someone trying to get word of the game out and be a coach, and finally at my University a few years back. But the problems have remained the same throughout – no money, no interest from schools, not enough exposure, and the refs not being of a high enough quality (which was probably a result of lack of money, interest, etc!).

      I particularly remember the refs never calling a charge EVER, which bugged me coz my coach was very good at teaching me to get my feet set quickly when rotating over!

      I also think the perception of it being a non-contact sport doesn’t do the game any favours over here. I used to eb thought of as playing a girls game that only weak-ass nerds played coz they couldn’t cope with football. One week my P.E teacher had the whole class play ball for the first time and I utterly destroyed everyone (being the only player in my class). When all the football (soccer) jocks limped off at the end with bruises/aches/pains/broken ankles they had a new found respect for me….

  4. AdamFromLondon says:

    Good Day Sekou hope you’re sayingl warm its not usually this cold in March. Seems Prokorov bought the weather with him!

    I think the NBA has huge potential for a few reasons.

    The fact the British Basketball league isnt popular would help. In Spain, for example, both Real Madrid and Barcelona have hugely popular basketball teams and as a result the

    • AdamFromLondon says:

      sorry pressed enter by mistake will continue.

      • AdamFromLondon says:

        I also think there are enough fans in London to make an NBA franchise sustainable. Ibelieve Florida has a population in the region of 6 million. It is home to the Heat and the Magic. The Greater London area (city of London and surrounding area) has in the region of 9 million people. Now if the UK has 1 franchise surely we can sustain an NBA team. The market here is going to be bigger than most NBA cities already.

        I also think the atmosphere in a UK arena would be better if we had our own team. I’ll be nuetral tomorrow and would be unless the Magic were playing. Although i would cheer a London side against the Magic every time.

        The problem i see is with the cultural shock. In general sport here is seen as a tribal activity rather than entertainment. Also the cost. I support Charlton Athletic soccer team who are the closest side to the O2 arena (about 1/2 mile). When they were in the Premier League season tickets were in the region of £500 and Charlton were the cheapest team. Thats the price for 19 games. The NBA would drastically need to reduce prices as £80 x 42 games is just too expensive for people in London. The idea of only going once or twice a season wouldnt make a team sustainable and people would lose interest. Also, if the UK were to adopt the idea of going to an NBA game as a family occasion it would be a rediculous price. £400 for a family of five per game? Noone would go

        I did think it was also pricey to charge £80 to watch two trash teams without a star. I just wanna say sorry to D-Will. I prayed a star would get traded and you drew the short straw. Apologies.

        All in all, with the right tactics, the NBA is easily sustainable. I’m unsure what its like in the States but over here many people support a team in each sport. There’s already been a few mentions of people here who have an NBA team and i’m a Magic fan so those already a fan of soccer arent necessarily lost causes.

  5. steven isherwood says:

    NBA in london!!!! Nice one:) I’m heading to the game tomorrow and can’t wait to see Derozan do his thing (he was robbed in the dunk contest….true dunkers don’t need props!).
    So glad you guys are finally brining us some of the action!

  6. Mark R says:

    A lot of what you say is the truth, i have a few American friends i can chat with about the latest goings on in the league, along with airing my opinions on my blog http://www.hoopnholla.com

    All the preseason NBA games that have been over here are way over priced – that harps back to the visits of Domenique Wilkins in his ATL days and Shaq with Orlando back in the 90s – like you say, when the cheapest seat is £80 to watch the Raptors v the Nets (are you serious!), the NBA is pricing a lot of true UK fans out of the market. I have stopped going and prefer to sink my hard earned £s in to a trip to the US each year to take in 4 or 5 games where you can pick up a decent seat for $40 or so at the Lakers, Heat or Celtics – in my book, Kobe or LBJ, D-Wade and CB for $40 is way better value than £80 for two teams that have a combined win total of 34 games this season! The atmosphere is also infinitely better in US arenas – the o2 is a great arena, but just doesn’t have anywhere near the same electricity or energy.

    http://hoopnholla.com/nba-london-nets-raptors/

    Hope you’re lovin London Sekou, good luck with the crusade, i’m on board!

  7. Joe [surname] says:

    Yeah, nobody really seems to know anybody who’s a fellow fan of the NBA over here; that’s how sparse the fanbase is. Obviously there’s just a huge lack of coverage – bar one channel and with limited availability – on these shores & it’s not something that’s taught much in schools either, if at all, so getting folks interested in the sport is extremely hard. Obviously if you increase on those two fronts you get more basketball fans – specifically, more NBA fans.

    Thanks to ESPN’s coverage of live games over here now – the channel’s only been available here for the past 2 years or so – i’ve gotten back into the NBA quite heavily in that time and watch a lot of games, see a lot of teams, check NBA.com each day for the highlights to nearly every game, etc. But even as interested in the league as i am, i just wasn’t feeling going to see The Raptors or The Nets at all. The lure of the first ever competitive game to be held over here just wasn’t strong because that reason alone was not something i cared for, not least pay for – especially at those prices. Gimme any of the Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, Clippers, Thunder, Heat, Knicks, Spurs, Mavs, Magic, Suns, Hawks or even The Warriors and i’d be pretty interested then, as would more of the average NBA fans over here (i imagine).

    This one event aside, it’s just a sport that’s unfortunately behind a whole long list of sports over here – Football, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, Snooker…. even Darts! – that are more prominent in the lives of virtually all folks growing up and until there’s more coverage on terrestrial tv or it’s at all featured on Sky Sports’ 24-hour News channel then it’s never really going to change. But if that were to happen, and once interest in it starts to gain, there’ll be more interest in the grassroots level of the game & so on.

    The sheer unavailability of it makes it hard to get somebody you know or meet involved.

  8. Finally those Londoners will see what a real Bad-Ass Sport looks like and what a real foul looks like.

    maybe if the US send their curling team over to London they would fair better

    Soccer players better watch the NBA over there in London you’ll might get some pointers on what physical really means or maybe better not go if you want to save your dignity

    • Lakers/Bulls4life says:

      The NBA isn’t nearly as physical as it was before the hand check rule and such. And nowadays there are as many floppers in the NBA as there is in soccer. (Well maybe not as much but still)

  9. awesomeman says:

    If we want a team there, send it to…

    Spain, France, or Italy. UK could take a while.

  10. Ryan says:

    I think you’d have better luck bringing the NBA to Australia!

    Quite a few fans here surprisingly, and not too much further to send a Western Conference game or two? Maybe Clippers versus Portland?

    I’ve been to England several times, and James Plowright is right – they are so obsessed with soccer, basketball doesn’t stand a chance.

    Good luck over there though!

    Go Blazers!

  11. avi says:

    Why are 2 of the worst teams playing? Many more would have watched if the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Mavs, Heat, Magic were playing! It makes no sense!

    • QuestionMark says:

      Think of it as a war mission, if the privates(Raps, Nets) can go in and create havoc, then the generals (Lakers, Spurs, Celtics, etc) go in once all the havoc is created, meaning if all goes well, Im sure more games will be hosted in London

  12. Fei Ren says:

    Welcome to London Sekou! Hope you’re enjoying the chilly weather here hahah. I’m going to both games, and even got ticket to see the BBL finals on Saturday at noon, it’s going to be a fun weekend! I grew up in New Zealand (funny how there’re quite a few Kiwis who are NBA fans), and came to London a few years ago. It’s a pity that the NBA is not more popular over here, as it’s really a perfect sport for the youth, and an example of how it can just explode in popularity is demontrated in China. The day that a UK born player becomes an All Star, is the day that basketball takes centre stage in the UK. The NBA just have to work harder to cultivate good players from here.

    Can’t wait to see Deron and the Nets! Also hope Demar can give us a few highlight dunks on the night!

  13. Chris says:

    I’m a huge NBA fan here in the UK, keep up with all the blogs and the highlights (students don’t have money for NBA League Pass!). Half the problem is basketball has to compete with like 10 other sports as well as football, I mean rugby is huge over here!
    It sucks that basketball isn’t bigger over here, but it’s kind of like fighting a losing battle. One of my mates is like 6″5 and he’s a Centre. What does that say for the height of people here. We just don’t have the training or facilities to even make top players. The league here needs a ton more investment and loads more exposure on the box.
    Admittedly, I think they could have chose the teams better as well. I mean D. Williams is the only big name that some people who don’t the NBA too well might have heard of, but I don’t think it’s enough to encourage people to turn up, and as someone mentioned before, the tickets are seriously expensive. Not only that, but it would cost me minimum £40 just to get to London, never mind staying over night etc. Would have been good to maybe have a few different games spread across the country, e.g. Manchester or Birmingham (that would cost me much less!).
    Either way, I’m still stoked, hopefully get to watch it at a sports bar or something.
    Keep up the good work Sekou, love reading this blog.
    Here’s to hoping the Blazers get a good playoff spot!

  14. Will says:

    Hey another English baksetball fan here, love the NBA. Unfortunately there aren’t that many basketball fans here. There are a number of different reasons mainly that it isn’t well coached in schools and there aren’t many teams to play for and facilities out of schools aren’t the best either.
    Another problem is people can’t watch NBA basketball at all on tv unless you have ESPN which costs a lot to have along with other such things and unfortunately I don’t have the money to pay for league pass, but most non-nba fans wouldn’t obviously pay for this.
    Football, Rugby, Cricket etc. will always be the popular sports but basketball has great potential here, some real effort is just going to have to be put in to do this though.

    I hope you enjoy the game Sekou, I wont be there sadly, but hopefully it’s a good game

  15. Micah says:

    I play on the University Basketball Scene (Edinburgh YEAH!) and i find that not only is the love of basketball there, there are some seriously talented players. I’ve come across a few who had high hopes of being spotted by NBA scouts, or were already in talks with european leagues. All we need now is the BBL to gather some momentum and i have no doubt in the next 10 years there will be a british all star in the nba or an MVP in europe. Once that happens SSN will get on the case and the masses will follow (fingers crossed)

  16. brady says:

    send the nba to oz, our only summer sport is cricket wich is as boring to watch as base ball but it goes for 5 days. they dont even have to be good teams, twolves vs grizzlies would be awesome.

  17. Danny B says:

    it’s FOOTBALL, not futbol. it’s futbol in south america maybe but not in the UK.

  18. dmz says:

    No offence to the people of England, but if expanding the game was the goal, I assure you, of all the countries to visit, London is the last. Trying to expand the NBA to England can only be viewed as force-feeding a new trend to a big market, instead of finding cultural common ground. Unfortunately NBA’s reaching to Europe is doomed to follow the routes drawn by it’s marketing department.

    Italy, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, France, Serbia, Lithuania, there are so many countries with strong basketball championships, hardcore fans, that would embrace such events actively. England doesn’t really care for basketball. It’s the equivalent of championsleague football matches (that’s soccer for you), being held in the USA. Yeah, with the promotion and all the fuss, it’ll draw a crowd, but that’s about it.

  19. P Oliveira says:

    I’m Portuguese and I would love to see Raptors-Nets game!
    I’m a huge NBA fan and many times I sleep 3 or 4 hours a night to watch the NBA. Here, the big sport is of course Football (or soccer), but NBA has a considerable number of fans. We have a sports channel that airs one game a day and we also have NBA TV in one of our cable services. That is great, but I think the biggest problem is that every game we want to see, airs late at night, which is not very practical. For that I don’t think there is a solution. However, at least in Portugal, a lot of people is familiar with the game of basketball and follow the news of the NBA. That is a good starting point.
    I hope the NBA keeps coming to Europe!

  20. Darren says:

    Am i missing something? I would think the reason the Raptors and Nets were selected to play in the UK is because everybody who follows basketball knows that these two teams were not gonna make the playoffs this year.

    Yes i get that the NBA is trying to grow the league in a new market and starpower would attract more fans to the game.

    I don’t see any benefit for contending teams with star studded rosters to make the trip overseas a month away from the playoffs.

    What a joke.

  21. spilli says:

    I agree with magic32,

    bring the game to germany! The 2010 IIHF World Championship has shown that even a hockey was sold out with (77.803 on the openinggame ). And basketball is more popular than hockey.
    Can you hear me Mr. stern ..;)

  22. ridirkulous says:

    as a passionate nba fan i was initially thrilled to hear that we’d be getting a game over here. but the reality sunk in that this was a fairly pointless ‘token’ outreach by the NBA that will have zero impact on the british fanbase. consider the opposite scenario, 2 bottom dwelling teams from the premier league playing it out in new york, with ticket prices more expensive than good seats at the knicks. Unfortunately the show doesn’t justify the pricetag, for fans or casual spectators.

    I was at the first NBA preseason game at the O2 and was lucky enough to see the Celtics team that went on to win the championship and was pleased to be part of that little bit of history. What is a first time viewer or game attender going to take away from this? 2 terrible teams with one star between them (and still they are a poor team even with d will) fighting out 2 games relevant only for settling lottery positions. Has about as much bearing as a preseason game. Who cares if that’s in london or not, i’d rather stream the next Mavs game on my laptop. The fans over here will find their own way to follow the league- there are plenty of clubs and plenty of people at the clubs who follow the NBA to talk with, oh and League Pass or sneaky internet streams. Hopefully the Olympics will be a much better advert for the game, with the All Star assembled Team USA, plenty of NBA representation from the likes of France, Spain and Argentina, and our very own Luol Deng to lead Team GB.

    I hope to get lucky in 2 weeks when 2012 tickets go on sale, but on this occasion I’m happy to have saved my money

  23. Nii Nue says:

    Why dont you have a basketball world cup just like with Soccer? This is why Soccer is so special. Its a 4 year fieasta

  24. Desi says:

    Welcome to my town Sekou! LONDON!!!!

    I won’t be at the game (gutted) but I’ll be making noise from 70 miles away. Enjoy.

    @ENZO – Most (most?? – none in my recent memory!) places do not have the opportunity to host regular season games like London so stop complaining. Who knows what games will be over here a few seasons away.

    A bold a great move by the NBA.

  25. Jon says:

    If you want more b-ball fans in the UK, have London host an All-Star Weekend.

  26. Germantas Kneita says:

    Im a Raptors fan and i live in London. Brought tickets to the game on Friday so im looking forward to it alot. Asked over 10 people if anybody wanted to come but no one was interested. That just shows how much work the NBA has to do here. In my opinion every team in the league should play at least one game abroad in order to increase the NBA fan base. Some of those people i asked liked basketball but had no interest in either of these two teams, For me however i couldn’t pass on the chance to watch my team. Was hoping that my boy Kleiza would play but it looks like hes out for awhile (knee surgery). Now im just left to hope that Derozan pulls of the ‘Show Stopper’ for the crowd. Fingers crossed.

    • QuestionMark says:

      Well since people here dont care for either team, as a Raps fan, Im hoping they are able to play with intensity and bring out their A game and also play a fast paced game, so they can prove people wrong and also bring out alot of buzz in London. Lets go Raps time to play like you did against Chicago and New Orleans!!

  27. magic32 says:

    bring nba to germany. we have many nba fans here. i hope in the future the nba makes a stop in germany. it would be great.

    have fun london citizens. dont miss that opportunity.

  28. Duncan says:

    Sekou, you are the man. By the way I think you have one of the best jobs in the world. I regularly follow your blog from the UK. I first watched the NBA in the UK in the late eighties when magic and bird were slugging it out and Jordan and Barkley were making a name for themselves. the game has not changed a great deal since then in as much as it is still the most exiting athletic game run by a commissioner who knows how the sell it. the only way to break the UK market is to broadcast it on free to air TV channels. That’s where football does not do because it’s too interested in money. If the already wealthy NBA really wants to spread the best game in the world to the UK then do what football will not do – become the game of the masses by being available to the masses. Premiership football is free to watch in the far east and is huge in there. the NBA could be huge here I have no doubt, just make it accessible. oh and by the way – I’ll be cheering the raptors and thinking of Sloan as I boo Deron Friday night at the Game. Can’t wait. D

  29. Lakers/Bulls4life says:

    I think it is great what the NBA is trying to do here but COME ON! Who decided to send the Raptors and Nets, 2 of the worst and most boring teams in the league. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers games get more publicity and have more fans (seriously, the buzz inside their stadium when they beat the Clippers to end their losing streak was deafening.) Hopefully in the future the NBA will host games in other countries with teams among the likes of the Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, Bulls(who one of their best players Luol Deng is from Britain), Magic, Heat, Knicks, etc. I will probably watch these games anyway just because of the spectacle (unless there are better games on), but I doubt they will pique the interest of very many of England’s residents.

  30. JD says:

    Yh i’m going to this game, cant wait, and i find that the NBA is suprisingly well known in my school, theres like 10 guys that if you talked about the dunk contest and the superstars of the game, would know what your talking about, and i live in quite a rich place, where you’d expect it to be less known. I think people play the sport here(it is claimed to be the second most played sport in the country)but no one really takes it beyond the game, by joining a club or following the NBA. The majority of people here who play basketball our either doing so in a PE lesson(what americans call Gym, though that doesnt really make sense) or just playing for fun at a park or in their backgarden

  31. Enzo says:

    @tobes. im delighted to be going to see a match in person and to see deron williams play will be amazing.
    i meant that Nets Raptors is no way to drum up popularity for the league.

    regarding some of the comments; These showcase games always get a page in the sports section of papers.
    Also ESPN is Free this weekend so anybody can watch the NBA at a time suitable to the audience

    Despite all this the best way to get publicity would be with the bulls and the hometown hero Deng. Why not face him against the London-born Gordon and the pistons

  32. Scott Stoke Newington says:

    I agree with most of what is being said here but don’t think its essential for a marque game to take place in the UK to raise the level of the awareness of the NBA. In fact, I don’t think there is the need for any games here at all. Most football (soccer) fans were very opposed to playing additional games overseas and I believe the same should apply for the NBA. The truth is most of those attending the upcoming games at the 02 are unlikely to be as avid followers of the NBA as most of us who have made comments here.

    For those of us that are passionate enough about the NBA to want to follow it as closely as possible, we have more access than ever via satelltite TV, online streams and mobile phone apps to be right on the pulse. Commitment to the cause means a lot of late nights and late starts for work, but its all part of the fun and passion.

  33. Callum Flood says:

    Not surprising that it isn’t big over here in the UK. As at school its not really a sport that schools care about, or preach at kids to get involved with. Most games are on at around 1AM which isn’t an appropriate time for kids who have school or people who have work. Its also not advertised at all over here, even the nets-raptors game on Friday/Saturday hasn’t really been advertised much.
    I think if they advertised it more and rather than show live NBA games, show repeats the next day at more appropriate times so it would give kids more opportunity to watch the games.

  34. Alister Albert says:

    Remember people, yes it’s the Raptors and Nets but this is also a pilot for regular season games in the UK and gauging interesting in the city which may lead to more games scheduled in subsequent seasons and possibly a franchise here or wherever in Europe (still maybe at least a decade away from realistically happening in my opinion)….

    I agree that such teams may not be the ones to draw a massive crowd, but with it being a game of “importance” and not just pre-season, and at a different time of the year, it is wise for the NBA to do a feasibility check by possibly giving two lesser teams a test drive of what it “could be” here in the UK….I believe a good turn out will eventually lead to the decision to bring maybe some more top-tier teams for regular season games in the UK….but it has to start somewhere! Nets and Raptors aren’t the best for sure…gone are the days of Jason Kidd, Kerry Kittles, Rodney Rogers and RJ running the Nets and VC, a young Bosh, Del Curry and a playoff contending Raptors squad…but the point is….it is still an NBA product doing a litmus test! Go out and support!

  35. MG20 says:

    Football in general allows more physical contact (only hard tackles are penalised and there are a lot of ”shoulder-to-shoulder” duels) and that’s one of the reasons why people in countries where the majority is into football will hardly enjoy basketball. Basketball, including the NBA, is mostly about technique and finesse; people relate it with physicality beceause the athletic moves that make the biggest impression on a person. And sure, many players are tough and athletic. But what makes a game ”physical” is how much physical contact is allowed between players. And basketball, especially the NBA, allows very little of it. It is one great missconception that the game is ”tougher” in the US than in Europre. The players are tougher but the game is not.
    I do agree that the NBA, and the whole whole (capitalist) world today is about money, and that a large market with people who can afford the product which the NBA provides is therefore the only criteria David Stern will go by. From that aspect the UK is most obvious choice. Although there aren’t many regular people who’ll visit the games, there will always be plenty of those who will attend them simply because it’s a good place to be seen at and who can afford themselves such a luxury.

  36. Franck says:

    I heard about this when i was on holiday in the US of A on the radio driving from san fran to LA and the first thing i did when i got home to holland is look for tickets!! been the biggest Raptor fan outside of the canadian border for a long time and have watched almost every game on ILP for the last couple of years.. Been looking forward to this for a LONG LONG LONG TIME!! I CANT WAIT!!
    LETS GO RAPTORS!!! YEAH!!

    • QuestionMark says:

      Good to Raps fan in USA, I live in Toronto and I am a Raps fan, gonna watch both games, LETS GO RAPS, TIME FOR SOME HIGHLIGHT REELS PLAYS IN LONDON, SHOW EM WHAT YOUR MADE OF!!!

  37. Tom says:

    as a PR i’ve always been struck by a fundamental problem in the NBA’s flawed UK marketing strategy. one game and a magazine show once a week on ‘terrestrial’ TV, by far and away the most important being the BBC, would generate more interest (although this is easier said than done). only when the fan base has reached a critical mass should the rights be sold to ESPN et al. – indeed having it on ESPN has excluded many fans who already pay for a sports package on Skysports. the UK fan base is younger than that of other sports and often not the person who pays the bill, so desire to watch and ability to watch are not necessaily the same thing. awareness of the game, rules is next to zero.

    a British team playing in the Olympics would raise the profile of the sport, but given that it is nye on impossible that they would take home a medal, their achievements – and thus exposure – would likely be eclipsed by not only gold medal performances in others sports, but by the other more traditional and popular sports amongst UK viewers.

    too coin a phrase from a very unfashionable sector, the NBA needs to think global, act local. it’s already done the first, the second will require a change in strategy.

  38. paulio says:

    i love the nba and am a big time celtics fan. been following them since 1992. i think half the problem with the nba over here in the uk is it’s only shown on espn which is an extra expence on top of sky sports. i myself watch on nba league pass broadband but you have to be a fan already to subscribe to that. the 07/08 season was shown on channel 5, obviously a good season for me personally! but that’s the sort of channel it needs to be on for the kids to come across it and get into it without having to pay hefty tv subscriptions. anyhow i’ve been saving up and later this month am going to boston and have tickets for 2 games, a lifetime dream come true. if the nba can only send the nets and raptors to us, i’ll take myself to the celtics, let’s go rondo!

  39. QuestionMark says:

    I will be watching both the games, not from London, but from Toronto, GO RAPS!

    But professionally speaking its great to see the NBA go international, but with teams like the Nets and Raps, you arent going to get many fans watching, even though I will be one of those fans watching, NBA will have send teams like L.A, Boston, Orlando, Miami, etc, all the elite teams that have superstars that are known world-wide.

  40. Kris says:

    I grew up in New Zealand, basketball was the main sport I played. The NBA provided such a source of motivation to go out and practice day after day. I almost never had any fingerprints as the skin on my fingertips was so worn down from hours and hours of practice trying to emulate moves I had seen on tv. I used to dream of being able to watch an NBA game in person. Since moving to London, I have managed to go to a few games in the US as well as all of the exhibition matches in London and have enjoyed them so much. I am very happy to have tickets to both Friday and Saturday and am going to enjoy soaking up the atmosphere even though the teams may not be of the highest quality. I hope for a tight, well contested game and something a bit different than going down to the pub after work on a Friday. Hope youself and the players get a bit of time to explore the city before the game. Looking forward to it.

  41. nathanael thomas abay says:

    my uncle is the driver of the raptors hope he’s asking for authographs:P

  42. david says:

    big time nba fan in england, im up at all hours of the night to watch the games and then get up in the morning to go to school! cant wait to see the game on saturday! basketball is such a great sport and its gradually getting more recognition over here! hope this game helps even more! .. see you there Sekou, hope you enjoy London, awesome city!

  43. Tobes says:

    @ Enzo: Don’t complain about Nets vs Raptors bro. I live in New Zealand and have never seen an NBA game. I’d give my right arm to go to a Nets vs raptors game even though I ‘m a Celtics fan!
    Hopefully both teams get good support from the English fans.

  44. Peter says:

    I love the nba, and we watch as many games as we can either on espn or nba league pass.Last year was all the more thrilling as Boston(my favourite) and the Lakers(most of my friends’ favourite) clashed in the finals. But if Sloan wants to expand the nba fan base in the UK, he should be bringing teams based on their ranking in the league over here. Right now it looks like a punishment for the teams to have to come here: bottom of the league? get ready for the flight to London! To be honest I wouldn’t pay £5 to go to see the Nets-Raptors, so good luck with that!

    • Stern is the chairmen of the NBA Sloan was teh Jazz head coach who recently departed haha

    • QuestionMark says:

      Agreed, but I can tell you this as a Raps fan, when the Raps are winning or whenever they get a win, it is always fun to watch them, but I agree that the Nets and Raps wont bring up alot of buzz and also I think the NBA should host all 7 NBA Finals game in London, so both teams can remain neutral and make the games even and fun to watch, that will make things buzz in London.

  45. Gary says:

    Theres plenty of NBA games on ESPN but its not exactly convenient to follow a sport where games start after 1am. Whos going to stay up all night to watch the lakers when they cant be bothered performing for most of the regular season?

    Normal games wont get column inches because 1. its not football and 2. they have to print them before 7am!

  46. JoeK_NBA says:

    I know that not many people actually support NBA and properly follow it here, but I do think that the few who have been introduced to it have followed it properly and have actually got into it. So I think its not that people wouldnt enjoy it as much as americans here, but just gettin people involved in it is the hardest part. Anyway good luck :)

  47. Mark says:

    Net Vs Raptors is not the way to get the UK buzzing about basketball i am a huge fan and have not even bothered going.

  48. JC says:

    Ok, there aren’t a lot of fans in Europe, and you cannot compare with football. But I’m going from Portugal (Porto) to see the first game with my daughter. I agree it isn’t a “Miami-Spurs” and we would like to see “crazy James”, but I think the atmosphere will be fantastic.
    We love this game …

  49. Peter N. says:

    Its not like Im going to pay £100 to see two bottom NBA teams, sorry

  50. john says:

    The best game to play in London within reason would be Bulls v Pistons. Both have international Team GB players in Deng and Ben Gordon plus Chicago has a major star in D Rose. Bulls v Pistons would’ve created some Newspaper column inches. So far no one in the UK cares about or is even talking about Nets v Raptors. NBA are preaching to the converted, as only people to go or watch this game on TV already like the NBA. London has the 2012 Olympics and NBA could capitalise on this but they need to bring some star power not 2 losing teams like Nets and Raptors.

  51. Your Mom says:

    what if every year the nba held a tournanment in london? then maybe the sport would get more followers (lol like twitter) and a local basketball player might have a chance to be in the nba. like yao. he was big in china and in the nba. maybe if a good player from london came to the nba it might get more fans

  52. MG20 says:

    The NBA could have a chance in Europe, but I think the UK is the last place for it. People there hardly know what basketball is, they simply have a different concept of what sports should be about and basketball simply doesn’t match their criteria. In short, it’s simply not fun to them.
    People there are very accustomed to football (soccer) and generally to sports which include more physical contact. Basketball is more about finnesse and technique and people in the UK, generally speaking of course, don’t have a mentality for it. One thing that people who are into football (soccer) don’t like about bball are the constant breaks and interuptions. Even I, a hardcore basketball fan, sometimes can’t stand it. All the timeouts (prolonged in the NBA because of sponsors) and the breaks after fouls, out of bounds etc make basketball (NBA) hard to watch for regular people. 48 minutes of pure play can last up two and a half hours !!
    Having said all that, the rest of Europe, however, isn’t that much of a stranger to basketball – countries in the Balkans (which is where I am from), the Mediterranean, the former USSR have a great basketball tradition and with the game still being very popular there (although football is nr.1). I know the USA has a greater cultural connection with the UK than with those countries but maybe the NBA should rather explore those markets beceause the popular support (by regular people, regular fans) there would be enormous.
    I just think that the tradition in the UK regarding sports and the sheer mentality of the majority of people there don’t provide a good basis for the NBA or the game basketball to evolve there.

    • eddd1 says:

      I cannot believe someone from europe just said that football in england is about physical contact???have you ever watched a premier league game, i mean i wish there was some contact. love, lebron and howard are hardly finesse and technique players. i think your talking more about european basketball not the nba, because there is a reason for the term NBA ready body (being hench as), never heard the term hes got an NBA technique or hes got NBA ready finesse. the UK is the best place to start a new franchise because we are culturally the same, economically similar (GDP per capita) and most importantly have similar athletic /sporting views (that athleticism is more important than technique, whereas in spain for example, technique is most important) whether right or wrong. although the rest of europe does have a great basketball tradition, sadly the potential market there is not even close compared to the UK. in a capitalist world money talks.

      • as says:

        No, he is right. the
        The game here is not popular and it is wrong country to start european expansion.
        If you choose spain, balkans or former USSR, you can get better results in popularity.
        Spain would be the best choice. Basketball is poular there (not as much as football but still), the Real Madrid and Barcelona teams are one of the strongest in Europe, Spanish national team is one of the strongest national teams plus they have some good spain players playing in NBA… All that toget her woul attract even more atention from fans and media.

        BUT UK is strongiest country in economy. So if you whant to make some profit it is better than spain and much better than Lituania (wich loves basketball but is just too poor)

        The bigiest isue here in UK is that no media attention to this game. They have start to promote the game and show some NBA and Euroleage games. While now it is just a hard to get info even if you are looking for it.

        This game is so unpopular that you can find it dificult to buy a basketball shoes. Despite Oxford Street where is lot of turist, in other shops you can find just few old models of basketball shoes or some sport stores has none. While boots for football can have whole first floor or etc…

        basketball is nothing here and i would say it is not going to change here fast, because britons, well are concervative, they like to keep on there own games like football (wich is a really good game), rugby (wich is good game for a strong bully guys) and cricket (wich is ridiculous sport, baseball would be better)

  53. Olly says:

    Shame I cant be there, awesome city, hope you enjoy it and the game man. Would love to see more games in London in the future aswell.

  54. Daniel Mein says:

    I’m a huge NBA fan from the UK! Stay up most nights to watch ball on my league player… unfortunately can’t get to these games as I’m at university. I don’t know many big fans of the NBA over here, and people I’ve asked about it can usually only tell me the names of a few players like Kobe, LeBron, Dwight Howard and the like. I’d love to go and see D-Will play as I’m a Jazz fan, and still wish him all the best, he is one hell of a ball player. It’s great that the NBA is playing a regular season game over here. It will promote the sport here in England, gather more interest in it, and hopefully get more people into playing it! Then we may eventually see more English guys playing in the NBA! Basketball hasn’t made it in this country because to be honest, the quality is very low here. I went to a Newcastle Eagles game and it just wasn’t the same as watching an NBA game on my laptop or T.V! Hopefully next season we’ll have more games here, and we need to get the Jazz to play over here too!!

  55. E.R. Rock says:

    I think that getting mainstream interest in the UK will require a homegrown star to make waves in the league. Yao was huge (pardon the pun) in opening interest in China. It’s so much easier to get excited about a sport when you can associate with the players. Most kids in England don’t have to look much further than the next town or even the next street to find the birthplace of a professional footballer. When a star comes sailing out from Dear Old Blighty… and one will… your crusade will become a lot easier.

  56. Your Mom says:

    i am not from england im in the u.s. but i dont really get to talk about the nba with my friends either. they all watch football, baseball or dont watch sports at all. it must be like 100x worse for you guys in england. somebody should set up a chat room or something. do they have AIM in england? its AOL instant messenger. if they had something like that for UK and US then that would be great for everyone to chat about the nba.

  57. Rob. A says:

    Im from Oshawa Ont. just a stones throw away from Toronto and I’m hard pressed to find people I know that care or know about the sport that of all things a Canadian invented, Hockey usually takes over everything but that being said the Raptors are a sucsessful franchise i believe in the top ten in revenue out of the 30 nba teams, “so if you build it they will come” theory works i think.
    But what I dont think will work is the crazy traveling problems it would create, so until they find away to make travel alittle more instantanious we will all have to wait to see the likes of the Boston Celtics vs the London Pioneer’s …etc.

  58. Travel709 says:

    Hello to all, I think London is a pefect european stage for NBA cuase is a relly international city and is one of the biggest in the globe, it depends by the target if it’s UK I don’t think that 2 games can make the interest grow but if the the goal is to open europe to NBA I think London is one of the best locations to introduce itself to europe.
    My humble and honest suggestion is to go on by experimenting new locations in order to introduce regular season games and not only reserve to the european audience preseasonal nonsense matches, kiss to all and go Raps!!!

  59. James says:

    Great to see an NBA regular season games in London, I SHOULD be going to the O2 to show support, but .. Nets and Raptors? not that desparate.

    @pippsthebest: mate I’m in Ealing, as a longtime bulls fan myself I feel your pain, but it doesn’t need to be UK based, does it? Try Doug Thonus’s: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-bulls-confidential & http://www.csnchicago.com has the best locker-room vid’s as far as I found.

  60. Enzo says:

    These posts make it out to be that basketball is unheard of in this country and has perhaps 20 big fans.
    where i live and in my school while the nba may not be as closely followed as by me, there is a large number of students playing basketball itself. Not 3 years ago only 1 guy played basketball, and now inter-school fixtures are being played weekly with participant numbers on the rise; proof that basketballls popularity is growing.
    There are even statistics to prove it: among 14-16 year olds basketball is the 2nd most played team sport in Britain, and among 16-18 year olds the 3rd.
    basketball can grow to be followed alongside soccer in England. Whilst there is no coverage of the NBA on Sky Sports there are 2 games a week on ESPN and more on special occasions. This all star weekend there was coverage from friday to sunday about 6 hours per day.

    Basketball is increasingly popular and you just have to look to find basketball being played in parks, contrary to what other people say.
    But Raptors-Nets?? Cmon!
    Not even Clippers-Suns

  61. eddd1 says:

    Give this a chance to work, basketball has a good chance of doing well here. I mean its a winter sport that unlike others is played indoors so you dont have to freeze your ass off! in a couple of years after these games and the olympics it will then be possible to tell if this sport has a major future in the UK. biggest problem is that its not teached in schools at all, i mean i think i played bball twice in school, with the teachers giving no real help on tactics or rules (if they even know any) except 3 pointers and travels. if basketball is played more in schools then it will take off more. plus when im just playing 1 on 1 in winter i have to book a court which costs £17 ($27) for an hour! I mean how is that ever going to help people start getting into the sport let alone help players practice to get to a good level!
    Anyway these games will do nothing but help this country get into the sport which is great because we need to lower the dependence on football which is becoming a cultural cancer in this country. especially the way that the NBA encourages community and helping others like NBA cares! —PLUS the fact that basketball is boss, watching someone go coast to coast and finish with a dunk, or someone hitting a clutch shot is better than anything in football.

    THUNDER UPPPP! ROSE for MVP

  62. magician says:

    here in italy there are lots of nba fans waiting for a nba match in their country

  63. Tom says:

    Teenage NBA fan from england here. In general the NBA will never make it in England. Why? because basketball hasn’t even made it in this country. Even though there is a following for the game and there are NBA fans around, the country is just not interested and no one is going to spend any money trying to change that. These matches in the O2 are pretty pointless for people like me who play basketball daily and actually follow the sport in america; and even europe. The prices are simply to high and considering the teams; even with williams its simply not worth it.
    I personally feel these matches are pointless and basically for the rich to go, because for me personally I get more entertained watching pick up games in my park than watching an NBA game where theres constant breaks, which dont appeal.
    But for the NBA ever to make it in a place like England, you first have to develop basketball in the country. Its actually funny how the game is in London, considering that the london based basketball team disbanded from the British basketball league due to lack of interest. But for it to develop, you need courts in every park, ontop you need more leagues, indoor courts, constant lighting and so forth.
    Because at the end of the day i’m lucky I have my school team and can use the indoor court whenever I want and stay late. However, when thats not an option im left with a semi-circle basketball court which ends at the three point line surrounded by grass, so when it rains, the court gets flooded and ends up full of mud; making it unplayable. If you know british weather, you know thats at least 1/3 of the year. Why my council even spent money on this I don’t even know as you cant even play games on it. So if I want to play I have to go for half an hour to a park with one full court which closes as soon as it get darks and is usually used for football. As in london they don’t make basketball only courts, they make football/basketball combined courts; making it near impossible to praticise or play on as it gets filled up quicker than a blake griffin dunk contest. Dosn’t stop me, but thats because I love the game and whenever I can I play, most people dont care. So how will basketball ever make it, if no one is going to invest to building a foundation for it.
    England, UK don’t care or want basketball here. Thats why the NBA will never make it. These games are just for the rich to go and for the NBA/02 gain some extra money.

    • Gustavo says:

      Dude I’m form Brazil but lived in Northwest London for 6 months (just got back to the states on January). Do you have any idea what happened to that Finsbury Park Basketball court???
      Ps: I’m assuming you know that area, if not I’m sorry for the question

  64. Adam says:

    I too am a big NBA fan from England, from Buckinghamshire, just north west of London. Yes, in this country football is a major religion, but dont be fooled, there is solid support throughout the country for basketball and it is growing rapidly. I have played at nearly every level of basketball in this country and met thousands of people pationate towards the sport. While the genral standard may not be all that, basketball does have a big following which is increasing every day. At my school alone, when i got here we had crappy rubberish basketballs and barely anyone knew the rules or had ever played, including me. but now, i see kids in every year bring basketballs to school. Its a great sight. While i feel it was my personal success helped to raise awareness of the sport inside the school as a whole (we now actully have proper basketballs, and even an electric scoreboard *shocked gasp* ), It is hard for the genral awareness to increase due to lack of good basketball teams available round the country. There is just a few decent national league teams round the country and so it takes a lot of dedication to get to training, (used to take me just short of an hour to get to training 2- 3 times a week), and then games where u often have to travel close to two hours to get to away games due to the low density of basketball teams. So there is a massive lack of accesability. And then local leagues are just rediculous, in my u18 team league there are just 3 teams because of the rediculous drop out rate after U16, (although i guess im guilty of dropping out of national league due to time , travel and energy comitments which i should really concentrate on A-levels (americans, don’t ask)). So basicly while it will take a while for it to become a major sport over here, i think there will be a point of exponential growth where small raises in popularity in small areas or even with individuals can have a big effect over time on the general population. 2012 here we come :)

    • Corey Fenton says:

      Hi, my name is Corey I too am a big NBA fan from England, from Buckinghamshire, just north west of London. Yes, in this country football is a major religion, but dont be fooled, there is solid support throughout the country for basketball and it is growing rapidly. I have played at nearly every level of basketball in this country and met thousands of people pationate towards the sport. While the genral standard may not be all that, basketball does have a big following which is increasing every day. At my school alone, when i got here we had crappy rubberish basketballs and barely anyone knew the rules or had ever played, including me. but now, i see kids in every year bring basketballs to school. Its a great sight. While i feel it was my personal success helped to raise awareness of the sport inside the school as a whole (we now actully have proper basketballs, and even an electric scoreboard *shocked gasp* ), It is hard for the genral awareness to increase due to lack of good basketball teams available round the country. There is just a few decent national league teams round the country and so it takes a lot of dedication to get to training, (used to take me just short of an hour to get to training 2- 3 times a week), and then games where u often have to travel close to two hours to get to away games due to the low density of basketball teams. So there is a massive lack of accesability. And then local leagues are just rediculous, in my u18 team league there are just 3 teams because of the rediculous drop out rate after U16, (although i guess im guilty of dropping out of national league due to time , travel and energy comitments which i should really concentrate on A-levels (americans, don’t ask)). So basicly while it will take a while for it to become a major sport over here, i think there will be a point of exponential growth where small raises in popularity in small areas or even with individuals can have a big effect over time on the general population. 2012 here we come

  65. datlakerkid says:

    there are more nba fans here in the uk than you think

  66. Rein says:

    if you want to introduce basketball in the world, bring celtics and lakers rivalry. nets vs raptors? what a joke. atleast nets have deron williams now. lol

  67. Alister Albert says:

    James man I’m with you! It’s tough to see the level of disinterest there is to the game and the league up here sometimes…But it is great that there are die-hard fans out there like ourselves. I always feel like I’m living in the wrong country sometimes! lol… I too also used to write but for bleacherreport.com as I felt it was the only way to remain fully connected and immersed with the game I love and also develop a bit of a hobby. Kinda got out of the groove after leaving University as I needed to devote more time to looking for a job but that still doesn’t stop me from not being able to do less time consuming stuff like checking out the highlights every morning and posting opinions, comments and pics on the NBA Feet thread @ niketalk.com (look for bundy9 if you wanna have a peek, and yup there are “sneakerheads” over here in the UK as well!…… http://niketalk.yuku.com/topic/269520/NBA-Feet-10-11?page=114)

    One problem I have though is….where is this supposed NBA Office that opened in London a few years back!? I’ve been trying to get info and an address but to no avail. Would be great to get some more info as it would be a dream to be affiliated with or work for the League over here!

    Sekou man, enjoy the stay…I know the Nets are definitely not strangers to Europe and hopefully Prokhorov can get them to the “global” and “championship” team he envisions and can become the model for success internationally for the league. It’s great that David Stern is adamant about taking steps to make this game/league more global and that guys like you are around to bring the awareness that the greatest League on earth has and should have relevance here in the UK.

    It’s a pity I’m not down in South-East London right now by my sisters and get an opportunity to go to the games but hopefully I’ll be able to grab something next year when the next installment of regular season match-ups are set….providing that there is a “next year” to look forward to with all this CBA dysfunction at the moment. Hope the games are a success!

  68. ZULU says:

    From the sounds of the Raptors roster the games should be played at The Hague in Belgium. Like any city in the states however, you have probably got to head for the ‘hoods to find the true ballers. Plus with the news stateside being increasingly pre-occupied with the WEDDING. I am surprise that the NBA even rated a few lines locally. Hope you are not blogging using that Shakespearean english by the time the games are played. Ha!

  69. PippsTheBest says:

    I agree with everything being said here. I’m in Reading, UK and sorely wish for there to be a place where I could talk to fellow NBA fans as passionate for the game as I am. Somebody needs to set up a forum or blog or something where UK fans can gather and talk about their favourite sport. I know, as a longtime, loyal Bulls fan for nearly 20 years (yes, even through the Tim Floyds & Jim Boylans), I would have LOVED to be able to talk with someone about the frankly AWESOME victory over the Heat last week and break down their weaknesses inside. Alas, not gonna happen :-(

    If anyone knows of one that exists, direct me to it – where hopefully I can get something more from the conversation than “KOBE RULES! LAKERS 4 3-PEAT!”

    • AP says:

      I agree – I too live in England (London) and don’t have anyone to talk about the NBA with! We should set up our own forum – looks like there’s enough demand.

      • Alex says:

        I’m all for joining a forum! A newly recruited UK basketball fan (of around 18months). Going to the game tomorrow, my first NBA game. Currently talking to a company about a year long intership in the US next year after my degree so fingers crossed with that!

      • AP says:

        Then let’s set something up! Anyone interested – hit me at shoelesscw@gmail.com and we’ll see if we can get a forum going.

  70. Peter Baines says:

    I think people you guys are underestimating the support Basketball has here. I’m a student but at my school there are a fair few guys that regularly follow the NBA religiously. Of course football is number one but maybe that is because the basketball teams we have here are not advertised and not entertaining. This shows every time I watch the GB team play, with little star power we can’t attract big audiences. This little exposure does trickle down to schools, sure there are basketball teams at school but you never see kids playing in the parks etc.

    I think the exposure the game will get come game time will be huge even though it is Raptors vs Nets but hopefully D-Will can put on a show so the papers can promote the game’s image.

    Can not wait to see the games, I will be the kid with Wilkins on his back.

  71. Gaz_23 says:

    Well said James, lucky for me I got a lot of my friends to convert and become NBA fans, of course football (soccer) is always going to be number 1 here but tbh as long as I get to watch the NBA on league pass and espn and contribute with other fans on here and on nba forums then I really don’t care how popular it is over here, I watch basketball because I love the sport I don’t care what other people follow it’s up to them. It would be great if there were more fans of the NBA in the UK but at least it’s moving in the right direction, the fact the games over here are sellouts goes to show how much it has grown, same with the NFL which has the advantage of having it’s games shown on sky sports thus making it more popular over here than the NBA, but the fact of the matter is the NBA is growing fast and by 2013 i’m sure we’ll see a lot more NBA fans over here in the UK.

  72. It’s the sad truth, im from England and there are very few NBA fans here. Some people may watch the dunk contest on youtube and know who lebron, Kobe and Dwight are but outside of that nothing. I know the NBA is trying to expand to England and the US team have just agreed on playing friendlys in Manchester at the MEN arena before 2012. However i really dont know if this will ever work. I have been to the NBA friendlys in London every year and the atmosphere just sucks. Nobody knows or cares really. The atmosphere sucks so much that i have stopped going. Along with the hefty price tag of £80-300 for a ticket… yes thats pounds! You cant expect people to pay that for a sport which alot of people will be watching for the first time. I know the games sell out. But all the seats go to buisnesses and celebritys not real fans who know the game and the league.

    I write for http://www.bobcatsbreak.com/ which is the official website of the bobcats, i do love having the angle of being a writer from England and alot of the time people are suprised with how much i know. But i have to do this so i dont go insane. I have so many opinions and ideas and i have nobody to speak to in England, i cant argue with my friend if the GW trade was any good or not so i have to do it by writing which is good. I just have a feeling that the NBA will never successfully spread to England im afraid, i would love it to more than anybody trust me. But i speak to friends and they just dont enjoy basketball, because football (the english one) is so big the just dont get basketball. I think it will struggle. I f anybody has any questions about basketball in England or by blogging please feel free to email me:

    james_plowright@fsmail.net

    ps i love NBA league pass broadband! It lets me watch games ever night, i dont know what i would do without it!

    • Mark R says:

      A lot of what you say is the truth, i have a few American friends i can chat with about the latest goings on in the league, along with airing my opinions on my blog http://www.hoopnholla.com

      All the preseason NBA games that have been over here are way over priced – that harps back to the visits of Domenique Wilkins in his ATL days and Shaq with Orlando back in the 90s – like you say, when the cheapest seat is £80 to watch the Raptors v the Nets (are you serious!), the NBA is pricing a lot of true UK fans out of the market. I have stopped going and prefer to sink my hard earned £s in to a trip to the US each year to take in 4 or 5 games where you can pick up a decent seat for $40 or so at the Lakers, Heat or Celtics – in my book, Kobe or LBJ, D-Wade and CB for $40 is way better value than £80 for two teams that have a combined win total of 34 games this season! The atmosphere is also infinitely better in US arenas – the o2 is a great arena, but just doesn’t have anywhere near the same electricity or energy.

      http://hoopnholla.com/nba-london-nets-raptors/

      Hope you’re lovin London Sekou, good luck with the crusade!

    • Gustavo says:

      James I know how big London is, I actually had the pleasure to live in there for 6 months (came back to the states on January) and met a couple of basketball guys while over there. Coincidence or not, one of the guys was very passionate fpor the game and his name was James. We used to play every once in a while at the Finsbury Park and I was wondering if you are the same James or not. If so, let me know what happened to the Finsbury Park basketball court, I know they had some plans to build football fields or something like that.
      I’m the Brazilian guy that was really bad in basketball but still love to play the game!

  73. Gaz_23 says:

    Haha goodluck in London Sekou, it’s pretty damn cold over here right now even though the suns out! Unfortunately I can’t make the game as I gotta work, but hopefully they’re 2 great games and it will show how much the NBA has grown in the UK, goodluck bro hope you don’t freeze to death! :D