The league announced today they’ll be playing regular season games in Mexico City and London next year. On November 12th, the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves will square off at the Mexico City Arena. In London, the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks will face off at The O2 on January 15th. In addition, the league will have a set of pre-season games involving five teams—The Heat, Nets, Cavaliers, Kings and Spurs—who will play in Brazil, China, Germany and Turkey.
You will remember, the ‘Wolves were scheduled to play the Spurs in the same arena last year, but the arena had to be evacuated 45 minutes prior to tip-off when a generator malfunction cause smoke to pour all over the building. The game was postponed, and eventually played back in the United States. Here’s hoping for a better outcome this time, as in, actually getting the game played in the arena.
The purpose of these games, of course, is to continue the league’s goal of globalizing the NBA, so there is a strategy to picking some of these teams based on their international stars. The Timberwolves, as currently constructed, have J.J. Barea from Puerto Rico, Gorgui Dieng from Senegal, Nikola Pekovic from Yugoslavia, Ricky Rubio from Spain and Alexey Shved from Russia. The international mix is a great appeal in a game being played outside the United States, but star power is key too, so it remains to be seen whether Kevin Love will still be on the team by the time they travel to Mexico City. A key draw on the Rockets side is of course, Jeremy Lin and his Taiwanese roots.
As for the game in London, the Bucks don’t feel like a huge draw on the international stage. But they have the second overall pick in the draft, so the folks in the United Kingdom will get a glimpse of either Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker. As for the Knicks, no one’s really sure who will be on the roster—Carmelo or no Carmelo—and who’s going to be behind the bench. And who knows, since the game’s in January, will they even still be in the playoff race?
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