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NBA To Stage First-Ever Regular Season Games In Europe

Related: Raptors Sign Kleiza | Raptors Acquire David Andersen | Raptors Acquire Barbosa And Jones
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August 9, 2010

The National Basketball Association (NBA) will make basketball history when the league holds its first-ever regular-season games in Europe, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Monday. The Raptors and New Jersey Nets will square off for back-to-back games at The O2 arena in London, England on March 4 and 5 as part of NBA Games – London 2011.

"The staging of our first regular-season games in Europe is a milestone for the NBA and the ongoing development of basketball in the region," said Stern. "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 -- a natural progression given the overwhelming response to the many friendlies we have played to sold-out crowds over the years."

"The entire Raptors organization is pleased to be representing the NBA in these historic regular season games in Europe," added Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo.

This game will be the Raptors' first visit to the United Kingdom. Toronto faced the Boston Celtics and Lottomatica Roma in Rome, Italy and Real Madrid in Madrid, Spain in preseason games in October 2007. The Nets will make a return visit to the London as they played the Miami Heat as part of 2008 NBA Europe Live presented by EA SPORTS™.

Tickets for NBA Games – London 2011 will go on sale Sept. 1 and will be available for purchase at www.theo2.co.uk.

The Raptors currently have four European-born players on the roster: Italian native Andrea Bargnani - the first-ever European No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft in 2006 - and fellow countryman Marco Belinelli; guard Jose Calderon of Spain; and Linas Kleiza of Lithuania.

This announcement follows the success of four sold-out NBA Europe Live games in London from 2007 through 2010, with this year's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves selling out in record time. The NBA's increasing presence in the UK has helped basketball participation double over the past four years with the sport reaching new levels of popularity.

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 Tokyo as part of the NBA Japan Games. The NBA has staged a total of 13 regular-season games in Japan and Mexico since 1990.

The NBA has a 20-year tradition of bringing NBA teams to Europe. Following NBA Games – London 2011, 24 NBA teams will have played 56 games in 18 cities in Europe since 1988.

Following NBA Europe Live 2010, The O2 will have hosted eight NBA teams since 2007 as part of the tour: the Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (2007); Miami Heat vs. New Jersey Nets (2008); Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz (2009); and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (October 2010).

NBA Games – London 2011 will cap off a comprehensive slate of international games during the 2010-11 NBA season that will also feature a total of seven preseason games this October on three different continents. Along with four exhibition games taking place in Europe as part of NBA Europe Live presented by EA SPORTS™, the NBA will hold exhibition games in China and in Mexico.