NBA returning to Europe in 2008; four teams to make trip


The NBA is coming back to Europe for another preseason tour next season.

The Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards will play two games each on the October trip to prepare for the 2008-09 season.

"Our third consecutive year of the NBA Europe Live is another step in our ongoing efforts to bring the excitement of the NBA to our loyal and passionate fans across Europe," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement.

The Heat and Nets will play each other in London and Paris, while the Hornets and Wizards meet in Berlin and Barcelona, Spain.

"I am looking forward to expanding the game of basketball to these great cities with my teammates," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "Being a part of Team USA Basketball in the Olympics, I know the importance of taking the next step in making the NBA a global sport."

Unlike in previous years, however, the NBA teams will not play local teams on the tour.

The first game between the Heat and Nets will be in Paris at the Bercy arena on Oct. 9. They will meet again on Oct. 12 at the O2 Arena in London. The Hornets and Wizards then play each other on Oct. 14 in Berlin at the O2 World, followed by another game between the two on Oct. 17 at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

The trip is less than two months after the Beijing Olympics. London will host the 2012 Games.

"Having played in international competition, I am very aware of the passion of the European fans for the NBA, so it will very special to bring the NBA to both Paris and London," Nets guard Vince Carter said. "I am sure that my teammates will truly enjoy this unique experience."

The NBA is also expected to return to China for another preseason tour next season.

In 2006, the NBA's first European tour included the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs. Last year, the Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors played around the continent.

The Celtics played the Timberwolves at the O2 Arena in London last year in Kevin Garnett's first game against his former team. He lead the Celtics to a 92-81 win.

A few weeks before the game, the NHL opened its regular season at the O2 Arena. The 2007 Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings split the series in the first regular-season games to be played in Europe.

"The return of the NBA Live Tour to London is a tremendous boost for the capital," Visit London chief executive James Bidwell said. "Last year's sellout game at the O2 attracted visitors from across the UK and Europe and bolstered London's reputation as the most prestigious global sporting city in the world."

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