Los Angeles Clippers and Seattle SuperSonics to Play in 2003 NBA Japan Games
Posted May 20 2003 2:04AM
NBA Returns to Japan for Regular Season Games at Saitama Super Arena
NEW YORK – May 20, 2003 – The Los Angeles Clippers and the Seattle SuperSonics will open their 2003-04 NBA regular season schedules with two games at Saitama Super Arena in Japan on Thursday, October 30 and Saturday, November 1, it was announced today by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
For the first time in Japan Games history, the NBA will host the event at the Saitama Super Arena, the venue for the 2006 FIBA World Basketball Championship for Men. The games will mark the sixth time the NBA has staged regular season games in Japan since 1990 and will be the second visit for each team.
“We're delighted to continue the NBA Japan Games tradition by bringing the Los Angeles Clippers and the Seattle SuperSonics to Saitama,” said Stern. “The SuperSonics and Clippers are certainly two of the league’s promising, young teams. I’m confident that our loyal fans in Japan will ‘Love It Live’ when they enjoy the authentic NBA experience in an extraordinary state-of-the-art arena during the first week of the 2003-04 regular season.”
In 1990, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to stage regular season games outside of North America when the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz opened the 1990-91 season with two games in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym. Two years later, the Houston Rockets and SuperSonics opened the 1992-93 season with two games in Yokohama, as did the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers in 1994. In 1996, the event moved to the larger Tokyo Dome, where two games between the New Jersey Nets and Orlando Magic drew more than 75,000 fans.
In 1999, the NBA’s last trip to Japan, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Sacramento Kings played two regular season contests, each winning a game before impressive crowds of more than 32,000 at the Tokyo Dome.
When the 2003-04 NBA season tips off, the SuperSonics and the Clippers will renew their Pacific Division rivalry and look to return to playoff contention in the NBA’s Western Conference. Over the past two seasons, both teams have made significant trades and have added talent and depth to their rosters.
The key player for the Seattle SuperSonics is the versatile Ray Allen, who was acquired by a trade during the 2002-03 season. Allen is the winner of the 2003 NBA Sportsmanship Award and is also a three-time NBA All-Star and an Olympic Gold Medalist from the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. A veteran of seven NBA seasons, he is one of the NBA’s most popular players. Seattle also features the multi-dimensional skills of forward Rashard Lewis and veteran shooting guard Brent Barry, while international players such as Vitaly Potapenko and Vladimir Radmanovic round out the roster.
The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the league’s youngest teams with forward Elton Brand leading the way. The top pick of the 1999 NBA Draft and co-winner of the 1999-2000 Rookie of the Year, Brand is the team’s best all-around player. He is supported by point guard Andre Miller, the league’s leader in assists in the 2001-02 season, and a roster full of young, talented players like Lamar Odom, Quentin Richardson and Corey Maggette.
The NBA Japan Games will take place during the first week of the season, which is scheduled to start on Tuesday, October 28, 2003. In Japan, the first game is Thursday, October 30 at 7:30 p.m. (In the USA, 5:30 a.m. ET and 2:30 a.m. Pacific time). The second game will take place Saturday, November 1 at 12:00 noon local time. (In the USA, it will be Friday, October 31 at 10:00 p.m. ET and 7:00 p.m. Pacific time). Tickets for the NBA Japan Games will go on sale in late June.
The rest of the 2003-2004 NBA regular season schedule will be announced in late July. The league will announce plans for its international preseason games in early June.