The New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks brought the NBA to London for the fifth consecutive regular season game, and although all the glitz and glam was on show, the game itself failed to show any real quality.
The O2 arena creates a great spectacle for the event, with everything you would expect from a regular NBA game; Jumbotron, celebrities on the floor seats and great entertainment at every interval, with all the grand displays of hype expected from an American sporting event.
With a vast amount of merchandise, banners, and novelty foam fingers available to the fans it’s also its quite easy to distract you from how bad this game is expected (and turns out) to be, with the Knicks being on a 15 game losing streak and the Bucks only having a winning record of 21-19, for those who aren’t new to the game of basketball this night, this is not an exciting prospect.
The game’s only highlights are being able to see the Knicks’ superstar Carmelo Anthony score 25 points in 27 minutes in his first game back from an injury, and a good shooting display from the Bucks’ OJ Mayo, with the Bucks showing a few flashy alley-oop plays.
The breaks turn out to attract the interest of the crowd the most, with Thierry Henry, Idris Elba and Anthony Joshua being cheered every time they are shown on the Jumbotron, and ambushed for autographs and pictures at the end of every quarter. NBA Legends in Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, John Starks and Bruce Bowen are amongst some of the legends brought out at a break in the game to really have the die-hard NBA fans in awe.
The game ends Bucks 95, Knicks 79 with the New York team continuing their record losing streak, with an appalling display from their players and an injury to their point guard Shane Larkin, leaving their legendary coach Derek Fisher very frustrated.
The NBA legend – and former Knicks player – and Bucks coach Jason Kidd, leaves happier, but also with the news that their guard Kendall Marshall has torn a ligament in his knee and won’t play again this season.
The NBA really needs to think about how to build its presence here in the UK. Commissioner Adam Silver seems open to the idea of more regular season games as the way forward.
A team like the San Antonio Spurs playing here next year would be something that should be considered as the Spurs have seven international players and three Europeans, and have just won their fourth championship in 11 years.
Such a team would gather support and improve the quality of basketball presented to UK fans, and provide a great contrast with this January’s game in North Greenwich.