For several months leading up to now, the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks both had “TBA” on their schedules for January 17. The teams knew they’d be playing overseas, with London a real possibility considering there were plans to play there last season before the lockout.
That news was proven correct this week, as the teams both gave statements about becoming the third set of teams to play in London, fresh off the 2012 Olympics and the international basketball spotlight. For New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, they’ll return to the arena where they won Olympic gold medals just a few months ago. For the rest of their teammates, it will be their first foray into London for regular season play.
NBA commissioner David Stern had this to say about the matchup:
“London was the epicenter of global sports this summer, and the Olympics were a tremendous showcase for basketball… Playing our third regular-season game in the city in three years and having historic franchises like the Knicks and Pistons serve as our ambassadors provide extraordinary opportunities to further the game’s growth and development in the UK and throughout Europe.”
Since 1988, the NBA has played 115 international games, including 16 regular season matches in Mexico, Japan and the United Kingdom, but it will be Detroit’s first-ever competitive match in Europe.
Pistons president Dennis Mannion used the press release to talk about showing off the team’s slogan of “Hard, Smart and Together Detroit Basketball” to a global audience, and how the game will be a “great experience for our players”.
One of the more interesting plotlines would be Rasheed Wallace playing against some of his former teammates for the first time since he played with the Celtics in 2010. Him playing in this game depends on if he is able to make the team’s roster, which stands at 20 players for training camp. He would need to prove that he is more valuable to the team than some of their younger players, but his rebounding and defense would be a positive addition to their team.
If he can beat out a few players to make the roster, he would hardly recognize the Pistons’ roster as it stands. Just four players – Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell – remain from Wallace’s final year with the team (2008-09), but his former defensive partner Ben Wallace may or may not be with the team once the season begins.
After getting blown out in all three games against the Knicks in 2011-12, the Pistons will probably be looking for revenge, as well. Detroit lost by an average of 24 points to New York, with their trio of Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony leading the way. With the added pressure of a global stage for this contest, fans should expect a much more spirited effort from Lawrence Frank’s squad.