JANUARY 16TH, 2018
As part of its longstanding Global Games series, the NBA made its annual pilgrimage to London to showcase the best of what it has to offer basketball fans across the globe.This year’s match-up featured the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, two of the league’s most storied franchises – and DAZN was there to catch all of the on and off-court action during the week’s media events.What transpired was a three-day period full of big interviews, last-minute changes and a pop-a-shot contest (more of that to come). Here are five memorable moments that stood out for us.
10 Feet High and Rising
The showcase kicked off with two days of open practices and media availability. This was not only an opportunity for the world’s media to talk to the players, but see at close quarters the amazing talent on display, as each team worked on their tactics and fundamentals. Stars such as Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Al Horford revealed what it took to survive the rigmarole of the regular season, their current assessment of the league and how they planned to up their game as the playoffs draw ever closer. After one Celtics session, some of their most athletic players kindly decided to remind us of our mere mortal status, causally engaging in an impromptu dunk contest complete with 360 degree turns and between-the-leg slams before the media scrum.
Thanks for that.
Theis, Theis, Baby
Celtics center Daniel (Vanilla) Theis gave a unique German perspective on what it was like being a rookie in an unforgiving league, his time playing in Europe and the growing relationship between him and his German basketball peers. At DAZN, we like to do things a little differently, so as well as a standard, sit-down interview, naturally we set up a pop-a-shot on site and persuaded him to have a shoot off against presenter Daniel Herzog (don’t worry, Daniel agreed to a best-of-three to give Theis a chance).
— DAZN DE (@DAZN_DE) January 10, 2018
World in Motion
DAZN managed to grab a few minutes with superstar Kyrie Irving at the launch of his new ‘4’ shoe in. He spoke about his quest to win a second NBA championship in Boston, how he has gelled with his new teammates so far, and broke down the infamous flat-earth debate for any basketball conspiracy theorists watching:
“It’s not about the earth being flat; the earth being round… it’s just about the consistent connection that we all have as humans. I feel like you should never alienate anyone for believing anything different than you do.”
The Stars Align (and One Gets Pranked)
NBA London’s game-day experience meant that there was ample opportunity to speak to the large contingent of sporting stars that gathered at the O2 Arena that evening. Football stars were out in full force, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Julian Draxler, Thibaut Courtois, Shkodran Mustafi, Michael Ballack, and Saed Kolasinac all making an appearance. Not only did they give their thoughts on their respective teams, and why they were fascinated with basketball, but also had a bit of fun with the rumours dominating the current transfer window…
— DAZN DE (@DAZN_DE) January 11, 2018
The NBA spectacle can also be, in a word, hilarious. British comedian Jack Whitehall was the unsuspecting butt of the classic ‘blindfold’ joke during a time-out – he was asked to shoot a three with said prop on, and the crowd to go crazy when the ball predictably came up short. He inevitably freaked out, he was inevitably embarrassed and we were inevitably in stitches. Everyone was a winner (almost).
A Game of Swings
In his post-game press conference, NBA Comissioner Adam Silver was keen to touch on the importance of the event for the youth on this side of the pond: “We realise that the ability to introduce them to a game at a young age makes all the difference in terms of the values of our sport and a team game like basketball”. The NBA, as well as other top American sporting organisations, are making a concerted effort to drive popularity of their sports across the world, and events such as these and the NFL London games that we saw late last year are a great step towards doing so.
It would have been hard not to feel inspired by the game itself. Thankfully, the match-up lived up to the hype that had surrounded it all week long, with the Celtics coming back from a 22-point deficit in the first half to beat the Sixers 103-114