LONDON — The location doesn’t matter to Raptors point guard Jose Calderon.
London. Paris. Berlin. Barcelona. Athens.
Wherever NBA teams play, he said, the game’s true fans will follow. That’s why he’s expecting a raucous and robust crowd for Friday’s Nets-Raptors game here at the 02 Arena, the front end of a weekend doubleheader that wraps up Saturday with a rematch of Friday’s contest.
Calderon has heard from friends and family back home in Spain who have made plans to make the trek here to see not only him but also the first NBA regular season games played somewhere other than North America.
“It’s exciting for us because this is the first time the NBA has done this,” Calderon said. “This is close to my house. For the people who cannot afford to fly to the U.S. or to Toronto, this is as good as you can get. If you love NBA basketball better, there is nothing better. For these kind of games, wherever you put the game, it’s going to be packed. And it won’t just be people from London. I know a lot of people in Spain and I know there are people coming from there and people coming from Italy to support [Raptors big man] Andrea [Bargnani]. If you are a NBA fan and you can come to London, it’s a nice city and it’s great to visit and you have the games. So it’s an excuse to enjoy both.”
Calderon joked that this wasn’t even a distant dream of his as recently as two seasons ago. Like most everyone else, the idea of two teams making the trip from the U.S. here seemed like a logistical nightmare.
“I’m excited to be a part of this and to be doing something different,” Calderon said. “And I don’t think it matters what two teams you brought over here and where you had them play. If there are two teams from the NBA playing a game anywhere near you, people are going to be excited about it. That’s why we all want to go out there and put on a good show.”