The Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets will play in London on March 4th and March 5th. The NBA is trying to expand their international appeal and games in London are one way to do that. There will be some preseason NBA games on the board at the online bookmaker that take place in other countries including England and Spain.
Bookmaker odds should be very competitive on the two regular season games in London. Toronto is not a strong team and neither is New Jersey. The most likely scenario is that the teams will split the two games in London. It will be interesting to see the type of response that the league gets in London. It doesn’t help that neither New Jersey nor Toronto has a lot of appeal. The Raptors lost Chris Bosh in the off-season while New Jersey is still in rebuilding mode. New Jersey played in the O2 in 2008 in the preseason as they faced the Miami Heat.
Since Toronto and New Jersey do not have many big name players, the NBA is counting on the brand name to be more important than the players with the two regular season games. There won’t be a Kobe Bryant or a LeBron James to sell tickets to the games at the O2. It may not matter though since London has shown they will watch NBA games, even in the preseason when many of the stars don’t play. The Nets and Raptors may not be top draws in the United States vs. bookmaker odds but they are still NBA teams and that makes them attractive to fans in England.
The NBA will have a preseason Europe Live Tour that will feature the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers along with the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers play Minnesota at the O2 Arena in London on October 4th in online bookmaker odds. The NBA has played to sold-out crowds over the past few years in preseason games. The O2 has sold out preseason games the past three years. The O2 will host the Olympic basketball games in 2012 and the NBA wants to make sure that the league has a presence in Europe before that time.