The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will play a regular-season game at London’s O2 Arena on Jan. 11, 2018 as part of the ongoing NBA Global Games series, the NBA confirmed on Thursday. Philly.com’s Keith Pompey and the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett first reported the news last month.
The regular-season game between the Atlantic Division rivals will mark the fifth straight year the NBA has hosted at least one game in London and the eighth ever regular-season game in England’s capital.
After playing preseason games across the pond from 2007-10, the NBA first hosted a back-to-back set between the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets in London in March 2011. For the first time, the league sent two teams not from the East Coast over this past January — the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers — and it resulted in a 28-point blowout and these testimonials from the two coaches:
Nuggets coach Mike Malone: “I joked with our guys after the game, ‘I think we’re going to stay here in London and play our home games here.’ Our guys were very comfortable out there and we had one of our best performances.”
Pacers coach Nate McMillan: “It looked like it we were still asleep. I think most guys were asleep on that bus ride to the game. … We approached it like a business trip, and we did have our families with us, but guys did go out and see London. And maybe we stayed out. I don’t know.”
So, mixed feelings, really.
But ex-Pacers forward Paul George launched his signature Nike PG1 shoe in London, and ex-Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari did sport some pretty sweet knee-high British flag socks, so all in all, good times abroad:
— Davide Chinellato (@dchinellato) January 12, 2017
The NBA also hosted two games in Mexico City this past January between the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns and the Suns and San Antonio Spurs, resulting in much better fanfare than when Mexico City Arena filled with smoke in 2013 or Rajon Rondo was suspended in 2015. The league has also discussed expanding to and/or hosting a midseason tournament in Mexico City in the future.
In 2015, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “I believe it’s our manifest destiny to expand” to Europe, although “we have a long way to go” before that is feasible from a logistical standpoint. Considering sustainable NBA cities like Seattle are currently without a franchise, expansion abroad seems unlikely, especially with player rest being a hot-button issue. Still, Silver suggested during his trip to London in January that the NBA aims to increase the number or regular-season games played internationally.
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