The New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors will play two games on March fourth and sixth at London's O2 Arena, thus increasing the NBA as a global brand and a commitment that the league wants to make before the 2012 London Olympics.
This is the announcement that commissioner David Stern made to the media: "The staging of regular-season games in Europe is a milestone for the NBA.
"By bringing these two young and exciting teams to London, we are fulfilling our commitment to schedule a regular-season game in the UK prior to the 2012 Olympics."
The league is making an attempt to broaden their marketing spectrum by playing two regular season games in London, and it is a move that the NBA brass hopes will increase their already large global appeal.
The only question is—why the Nets and Raptors?
I understand the use of the Raptors for this game, as they are the only non-US based team. It gives an appeal that the NBA can expand to three countries. But why can't the league give the world what they want to see—real NBA talent?
Now, this is not a knock on the Nets and Raptors, nor is not intended to be, but with the largest offseason EVER and a media buzz that could have been extended globally for years, why send the NBA bottom feeders?
Here is my guess on how this took place.
David Stern (to his staff): We're going to have two games in London.
Staff: Who should we send?
Stern: Are the Lakers and the Heat free?
Staff: Nope, sold out.
Stern: Okay, who hasn't sold a season ticket yet and no one would care if they miss a home game?
Staff: Well the Nets and Raptors havn't sold a ticket...
I think it's a great move to allow regular season games in other countries, and I understand the Lakers are playing a preseason game in London to help gain exposure. But if the league really wants to gain global appeal, doing so with the Nets and Raptors won't cut it.
When the league wanted to increased their market in Japan and Asia, they sent over the Rockets and Yao Ming to play a regular season game. And when they wanted to increase their market in Mexico, they sent the Suns or Los Suns.
The league is really missing the mark on this one.
Let's just hope that, like most parts of the world, they get their news years later and they still think Bosh is in Toronto or the Nets could still get LeBron.
"[It is] a natural progression given the overwhelming response to the many friendlies we have played to sold-out crowds over the years," stated Stern.
Commissioner Stern, when UK fans realize how terrible the teams are that you're sending, I don't think they will want an NBA team.
The NBA will announce the rest of their regular season schedule tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on NBA TV and ESPN.