Fans with a ticket for the NBA’s London game between the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards can expect a playoff-type atmosphere, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Returning to the British capital for the ninth year, the NBA’s London game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports USA from 8pm on Thursday.
Live NBA: New York @ Washington
Mr Silver told Sky Sports News that this game will have a different feel to regular season games both for players and fans.
“For these two teams, this is truly a special game,” said Mr Silver. “They know there will be people for whom this may be their only lifetime experience watching live, NBA basketball.
“They also know because we’ll be on prime time for Europe that there is a special and unique audience, a larger audience than they might have for a regular season game.
“There will be a bit of a playoff-type atmosphere and I think it will be a very hard fought match.”
Highlights of the Philadelphia 76ers’ visit to the New York Knicks in week 13 of the NBA.
Neither side has enjoyed a particularly strong season so far, with both the Wizards and the Knicks in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.
But as former Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic player John Amaechi told Sky Sports News in previewing this match, the London game will still showcase a very high standard of play.
“This is an amazing opportunity for people to see top quality basketball,” Amaechi said. “I know people will note that these two teams are not necessarily at the top of their game, but they will be here to compete.
“When two teams have a little more to prove, anything can happen.”
The NBA Commissioner revealed that tickets had sold out for this game in under an hour and that people fans from 40 different countries are expected to attend.
Former NBA players John Amaechi and Bruce Bowen give their predictions ahead of the Washington Wizards facing the New York Knicks in London on Thursday.
Mr Silver said that such interest from fans means the NBA is continuing to look at more games in London and elsewhere.
“It’s something we continue to look at,” he said. “We’ve explored the notion of a mid-season tournament of sorts, where we could bring multiple teams over, stay a little longer and have a round robin tournament.
“We have a fairly condensed schedule, an 82-game season and we are continuing to experiment with whether the season should be a little bit longer to incorporate more international play.
“When we play these one-off games, the tickets sell out quickly, within an hour, at frankly fairly high prices, so we know we could sell a lot more tickets and our teams are excited about coming so we are going to look to do more.”
Sky Sports News’ Gary Cotterill reports from central London where preparations are taking place for this week’s NBA face off between the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards at the O2 Arena, live on Sky.
And Silver explained that while there was originally resistance to the idea of playing games outside the United States, players now firmly embrace the chance to take the NBA across the pond.
“In the old days there used to be resistance, there’s almost no resistance now.
“Roughly 25% of our league is made up of players who are born outside the United States.
“Our players have become more worldly, they enjoy travelling. Far from resistance, there are teams volunteering to come.”