The NBA has grown to become one the biggest sports organisations in the world. Over the past decade, the corporation has worked hard to grow its global reach and audience engagement. One way to achieve this has been through playing overseas games. The 2018 NBA fixture will be the 8th consecutive yearly game played in London. Currently, over 25% of league players are born outside of the USA. With increased research in the effects of travel on sports stars, the organisation has worked to create a schedule which is attractive to both franchises, fans and most importantly the players.
In previous years the UK has seen a range of lower-profile teams compete at the O2 Stadium. This year the NBA has scheduled a blockbuster fixture between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. Fans have jumped at the chance of seeing these top two teams compete in London. As a result, tickets were in high demand as soon as they went up for sale in October. In fact, they sold out in just a few hours, the quickest an NBA games has ever sold out in the UK.
Boston v Philadelphia Rivalry
The Boston Celtics versus Philadelphia 76ers rivalry is one of the most long-standing rivalries. In fact, both clubs are amongst the two oldest teams in the NBA. With both franchises meeting in the playoffs more than any other fixture, there is a long-standing competitive rivalry, one which is undoubtedly going to create a sensational atmosphere on Thursday 11th of January.
The Boston Celtics currently have the conference’s best record. With 30 wins and 10 losses, the Celtics are in fine form with a streak of 6 wins back to back. There are a variety of players fans should look out for in London. One player which has had a dramatic effect on the Celtics teams since moving from Cleveland is Kyrie Irving. With his standout quick decision making, Irving has managed to transform a very good team into one which now has the potential for greatness.
The Philadelphia 76ers have found their form in recent fixtures and currently find themselves on 19 losses and 19 wins. Two players who have had a standout season are Ben Simmons and Robert Covington. Simmons has shown his all-around playing ability and as a result, is running away with the Rookie of the Year award. Covington, on the other hand, has been Philly’s unsung man whose work ethic has managed to keep the Sixers in the playoff hunt.
What it means for Europe
The NBA has been globally adored for some time. Europe has seen a substantial expansion in fans over the years. One way in which the association has managed to achieve this is through creating engaging content that is released in the UK time zone as well as using fan engagement tools. The majority of NBA games in the US are shown in the middle of the night, as a result, personalised content is created which draws new fans in and retains current supporters.
Fans will be travelling from all around Europe to see the Boston Celtics vs the Philadelphia 76ers. It is expected that a lot of people are coming from France and Croatia to see the event play out. Both teams have an exceptional about of international talent in their rosters, meaning family and friends from their native countries will be travelling to see them play. Second-year power forward Dario Saric is expected to have a large contingent of family members from his native Croatia in attendance. This will mark the first time Saric’s father, Predrag, will see him play in person since he joined the Sixers.
The game showcased on BT Sport will enable the league to promote the game, develop sales of merchandise, encourage growth and awareness of the game globally. As the recognition for the NBA starts to grow in Europe we could soon see an All-star game, a playoff or even a block of fixtures played at a range of Stadiums around Europe which will undeniably have an effect on the global growth of the organisation.