Basketball may be an international sport -- a record 84 foreign-born players were on the NBA's opening-night rosters this year -- but that hasn't translated into mainstream success in the UK. From the Daily Mail:
When the New York Knicks take on the Detroit Pistons the O2 Arena seats will be full, but British Basketball has found the cupboard bare when it comes to funding ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
UK Sport's announcement in December that basketball would receive nothing over the next four years - compared to £8.6million in the lead up to the London Games - left officials shocked and completely undermined the optimism that had existed about the sport's development here.
Needless to say, the NBA remains a novelty, and the English press is covering it as such, complete with dictaphones cocked like hooters. Wait, what? From the Guardian:
The NBA circus was in town and so were the clowns, Dictaphones cocked like hooters, bodies six deep in the mêlée. And as the New York Knicks made the art of swishing a regulation-sized basketball into an 18-inch steel rim from distance look as easy as a Sunday morning stroll, the film director Spike Lee was shooting the breeze from court side. "You've going to see many buckets against the Pistons," predicted the film director, whose orange Cossack hat was so luminous it could have lit up the O2 Arena by itself. "Carmelo might get 40 points. The last time I saw a Knicks team this good Patrick Ewing was playing. It's been a lot of years. We haven't won an NBA championship since 1972-73."
At least the Mirror put together a primer to help non-hoops help understand the game. It's too boring to actually blockquote -- except for the final prediction:
So who's going to win on Thursday?
I'm going to go with the *ahem* home side in a bit of a surprise. Despite being lower in the standings, the Pistons have been a better team as of late. So I think they'll pull off the minor upset.
Also in the Mirror, David Stern compares the English Premier League with the NBA:
"Good luck with Financial Fair Play rules," he says with a mischievous chuckle that makes it obvious he does not envy his friend Richard Scudamore.
"We deal with that issue through the salary cap and through revenue share. But then the EPL punishes failure and the NBA rewards it.
"If you fail in the EPL, you get relegated. If you fail in our league, you get the first pick in the draft.
"It is an interesting starting point if you want to intellectually examine the underpinnings of various sports."
What are Financial Fair Play rules? Glad you asked! Wikipedia tells me they're rules to prevent teams from spending more than they earn -- and potentially going under -- in pursuit of success.
Even though it's a novelty, this game does seem to be a spectacle. How big? It had a red carpet event last night, complete with obscure (to me) English celebrities: